Christmas Inn remodel OK’d
February 12, 2002
Owners of Aspen’s venerable Christmas Inn won approval to expand the ski lodge Monday on one condition: They have to fix the clock, too.
Dennis Chookaszian and a Chicago-based group own the Main Street lodge. The owners have proposed razing a one-story piece at the rear of the building and constructing a four-story structure, sinking one story below grade.
The 27-room lodge will expand by eight more lodge units and two affordable housing units for employees.
The height of the new addition to the rear troubled two neighboring property owners, but one, Nick DeWolf, resolved his objections when he reached a “gentleman’s agreement” with Chookaszian.
What has been dubbed “Nick’s Notch” will be left open in the rear of the lodge. Two lodge rooms, one above the other, won’t be constructed, preserving the view of Aspen Mountain from the local inventor’s office. De Wolf said he will purchase the space for an undisclosed sum so that a chunk in the back of the lodge can be left open.
His office and attached home are located across the back alley from the Christmas Inn, which is configured around an inner courtyard. The existing front of the inn will be refurbished and the lobby expanded.
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Another neighboring homeowner, John Dobbs, objected to the expansion plan and its impacts on the character of the neighborhood. He also objected to variances granted by the city, with its approval, for the height of the building and parking. The ridge line of the roof on the new structure will be 28 feet, 3 inches high.
“All up and down Main Street, I’m afraid this will be the go sign for development,” Dobbs said.
The Christmas Inn project is the latest in a string of small-lodge redevelopments that have received city approval.
The inn, said private planner Stan Clauson, “might be considered a lodge that is past its prime.” The expansion and improvements are designed to make it a viable enterprise again, he said.
The council agreed to the plans, but Councilman Tom McCabe insisted the clock on the front clock tower at the lodge be repaired to show the correct time more than twice a day.
Father Time (or is it Father Christmas?), perched to one side of the clock and gripping an antique ski in one hand, must also remain, McCabe said. There is no plan to remove him, Clauson assured the council.
It’s possible the clock doesn’t work because “pleasure knows no time,” as notes the lettering above the timepiece, pointed out project architect Augie Reno.