City Council blew it
I’m responding to the ridiculous article written by Andy Stone dealing with the new (approved) Aspen Art Museum. Here is the real background story, which he somehow failed to divulge. A local group bought the Wienerstube property several years ago and went through a very responsible and expensive design review, hiring a local architectural firm, land planner, got bids from local contractors and took this project through the city of Aspen process starting with the Planning and Zoning Commission.
They all worked together and passed 100 percent (not split, but 100 percent). They had 12 meetings and got 100 percent approval every time – meeting all city codes. The next step is City Council. They presented what just got approved through the planning and zoning process. After many painful sessions presenting to the council and many months and countless dollars later, they got turned down. So, here is what we, as a community, lost: 12 on-site employee units, 40 underground parking spaces, plus several alley-accessed retail shops spaces with lower rent for local businesses.
In terms of height, 42 feet is allowed by code. I would also like to remind you that there is no sideline or “shadow” restriction in any building code of this city – except maybe the Wheeler Opera House view-plane and maybe the Hotel Jerome. So, all this argument concerning that is not based in reality. Can you imagine if every single neighbor could protest and/or sue as new projects are proposed because they are being “shadowed” or their view of something is blocked? We do have private property rights in this country.
What would you do with this asset when three people tell you your project is through? They sued the city, which based its decision on the Aspen Area Community Plan – even though they met every code. So, the city – afraid they would lose their cerebral Aspen Area Community Plan in court – saved their butts by taking this offer from the art museum. The art museum was lucky enough to cut a deal with the owners of the land.
What Stone’s article really should have said: Watch out who you vote for – you can look up for yourself which City Council members turned the development down and now we get what we get. These are the same people who put restrictions on all local houses more than 30 years old. See, you think you’re in charge of the largest investment of your life, but you’re not. I’m serious – pay attention to who you are voting for. If they say they are anti-development, or anti-growth, then they mean everything – including a great project with housing and retail space. I have no ax to grind about the art museum. My ax is with our City Council. Shame on all the lost opportunity for the community.
Lorraine B. Winnerman
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