City Council to take up Aspen Art Museum move

Aaron Hedge
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – The City Council could end a court battle and a lengthy effort by the Aspen Art Museum to move into what museum officials say is a much-needed new space on Monday.

Council members will consider approving a settlement of an appellate court case with the owner of the Wienerstube building. Mayor Mick Ireland assured citizens last week of the transparency of the unusual process, which was born from litigation between the city and 633 Spring Street LLC. The company sued the city last year for denying its original application to redevelop the building. That application did not include housing for the art museum.

The settlement proposal includes two buildings: A state-of-the-art structure to house the museum and a mixed-use facility for housing and development.

The museum building would be between 47 and 32 feet high and would include 30,000 square feet of space; 10,000 square feet of that would be underground, and 12,000 square feet would be dedicated to galleries – more space than the museum’s current spot. Plans call for a glass building encased in a screen-like transparent wooden facade.

The mixed-use building would be between 38 and 28 feet. It would include 15,000 square feet, 11,250 of which dedicated to commercial leasing.

City staff recommended the proposal in a memo to the council, saying the museum would be the first and only free public building to allow people on the roof, which would feature a cafe and a library.

Monday’s City Council meeting will offer the first public comment opportunity on the project.

Ireland indicated last week that he would support the proposal, saying settlement of litigation is nearly always preferable for either party because a judge can make a decision that would be bad for both.

Some in the community have expressed concern to council about the building and the transparency of the approval process. The city engaged in meetings not open to the public with 633 Spring Street LLC to discuss the potential settlement of the appeal.

Steve Ferrell, a community member who’s concerned with the building’s height, wrote to the council last week, asking council members to consider taking a floor off what is designed as a three-story building.

The world-renowned architect Shigeru Ban overlooked the needs of the community, especially with the wooden facade, he said.

“The screen walls result in essentially a large box, devoid of architectural design, setback, varying height, or any of the other elements discussed in commercial design projects,” Ferrell wrote.


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