City allows Aspen condo owners to proceed with remodel
August 5, 2009
ASPEN – The Aspen City Council on Tuesday passed an emergency ordinance that allows a group of condo owners to remodel their Cooper Avenue complex and escape a restriction in the city’s land-use code.
The council granted last week’s request by John and Ricki McHugh, who represent the Aspen West Condominiums Homeowners Association, to remodel their 41-year-old Aspen condominium complex without the work being considered a demolition.
Without an amendment to the land-use code, the McHughs and their neighbors wouldn’t have been able to make the intended improvements because the project would have been considered a demolition and they would have had to provide 100 percent affordable housing on site.
Known as the “Multi-family Replacement Program,” the law was passed by the City Council in the 1980s after officials became concerned that the demolition of existing free-market residential units was resulting in the exclusion of working residents from the city’s neighborhoods. The law was created so there would be no net loss of the total number of units between existing development and proposed development.
But for the McHughs and other property owners at the complex, it prevented them from being able to make environmentally friendly upgrades to the deteriorating building, resulting in more energy-efficient homes.
When the remodeling project began two months ago, the condo owners discovered the roof was rotting and the back wall was made of sound board with no insulation. They both need to be replaced but that would put the homeowners over the threshold of 40 percent, constituting a demolition, according to the city’s law.
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The council has been considering possible amendments to the code for the past few months and is slated to make changes in the future that better reflect the intent of the law – for property owners to mitigate based on the increase of square footage, not necessarily demolition, so people like the McHughs can do remodels that improve the condition of a property and make it more environmentally friendly.