City council mulls South Aspen Street proposal
August 11, 2013
Round and round they go; where they'll stop, no one knows.
A developer and city of Aspen officials will entertain another mix of possibilities for a South Aspen Street property at today's City Council meeting, which gets under way at 5 p.m. at 130 S. Galena St. The development discussion lies at the end of the meeting agenda, and there is no exact starting time for it.
Over the years, myriad plans have been created for three parcels of land at South Aspen Street, near Deane Court and Gilbert streets, just north of Aspen Mountain's Lift 1A. In 2007, the area was included in the controversial Lodge at Aspen Mountain proposal, which went through numerous public reviews before it eventually was scuttled.
Vested development rights attached to the property under a former owner in 2003 give the new owner, ASV Aspen Street Owners LLC, the right to build 31 multifamily units — 14 free-market and 17 affordable-housing dwellings — on the site. That project is approved to house 46 employees, many of those off-site. Those vested rights expire in March 2015.
However, Aspen Street Owners is looking to scale the project down despite recent objections from the city's Community Development Department. The latest proposal asks for an amendment to change the "entitlements" for the property to 24 residential units: 14 free-market and 10 affordable housing. During the council's meeting on July 8, staff and council members alike suggested that the development team should come up with another plan that would significantly allow more density on the property as well as more on-site affordable housing.
The new plan does not guarantee more density in one of the most lightly populated areas of the city nor more affordable-housing on the site, according to a city staff memorandum.
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"Staff had been hoping to see more substantive changes to the site plan and programming of the parcels than was submitted by the applicant," the memo from Community Development Deputy Director Jennifer Phelan states. "Past concerns had included maintaining affordable-housing on-site and the development of a site plan that better relates to the town grid. Unfortunately, neither suggestion was included in the option provided by the applicant."
The memo says that the developer is offering to add an additional floor of affordable housing to a proposed building on one of the parcels, which would add four one-bedroom parcels to the site. However, those units can't be built because of a private deed restriction that limits the building's height, the memo continues.
"The option provided is for additional housing on-site at some unknown future date and subject to an unpredictable agreement that the city is not party to or has the ability to enforce," the memo adds.
Last year, the former version of the City Council — three of four current members are new, and there is a new mayor who votes, as well — asked Aspen Street Owners to come up with a new hotel proposal for the property. One of the council's official goals is to encourage new lodging projects to add rooms to the shrinking "hot bed" base.
After several meetings, the council and the developer could not agree on basic details of the plan, and the developer withdrew the application, saying that current economic conditions require a hotel to be much larger than the city is willing to accept.