City Council OKs housing plan, but the ABC still hasn’t
Aspen Times Staff Writer
The final plan for Aspen’s Parcel D affordable housing project won final approval from the City Council Tuesday, but the plan may hardly be final.
The architectural review board for the Aspen Business Center forwarded the council a list of items they’d like addressed concerning the one building in the project over which they have review, but the council didn’t respond to the requests.
Instead, rather than delay construction further, council members unanimously approved the 40-unit complex and directed the design team to meet with the review board in hopes of working out the unresolved issues. That way, construction can begin on the other two buildings while negotiations continue.
If a resolution isn’t in sight by the time construction starts on the third building, council members indicated they’d order a redesign of the building to eliminate seven units from that structure, taking the development off the piece of land that is within the ABC’s purview.
The architectural review board met yesterday, but neither city staffers nor the project architect were allowed to attend, the council was told.
“Isn’t the architect generally at those meetings?” asked Mayor Helen Klanderud.
“Always,” responded Councilman Tim Semrau, a developer.
ABC developer John McBride, who raised concerns about the building’s compliance with the ABC’s covenants, did not attend Tuesday’s council session.
Council members did not appear anxious to embrace some of the design changes requested by the board, and Klanderud wondered if addressing the board’s concerns would guarantee they’d sign off on the project.
“There is nothing in here that gives me any confidence that the architectural review board has given its approval,” Klanderud said, eyeing the list of concerns.
“You’re right, I think you have no assurance at this point,” said Ed Sadler, assistant city manager. “How much time do we waste trying to get what they want?”
“Do we want to stomach these conditions and try to work it out or do we just want to bail on it?” Semrau quizzed his council colleagues.
Architect Doug Graybeal urged the council to let him work with the review board in hopes of reaching an agreement rather than eliminating seven units now – a move that would delay construction by at least a month for redesign work and re-engineering, he said.
As it is, the project startup has been put off for two weeks; the council is now expected to approve the construction contract at its Aug. 25 meeting.
“Any time delays at this point are going to cost you more money,” Sadler warned.
The review board, comprised of McBride, five architects and two builders, asked that trees on the site be saved or transplanted; requested that one unit be eliminated to bring all but the stair tower under the 30-foot height limit; suggested changes to the stair tower; demanded the roof be black or a very dark color; raised objections to the windows; approved the siding but held off on approving its color; and suggested the housing project be folded into the ABC and regulated by its covenants for future maintenance and landscape care.
“I don’t think so,” said Sadler of the latter request. “I don’t see why you would agree to that.”
City attorney John Worcester advised the council to approve its housing project and continue working with McBride and the review board.
“I’m going to suggest you take John [McBride] at his word when he said this can be worked out and he doesn’t want to delay the project,” Worcester said.
Earlier this week, Klanderud questioned why the ABC had come forward with objections at “the 11th hour.” McBride said he had only recently received the final plans, which put part of the development on land that is subject to the ABC covenants.
Vince Hooper, representing ASW Realty Partners, the project developer, said last night that he has tried to schedule a meeting with McBride for months to go over the plans, but McBride declined to meet with him.
The ABC did have six members on a 12-member task force that established the parameters for the project, said Troy Rayburn, city project manager.
[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is email@example.com]
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