City mulls Bavarian Inn project
The Bavarian Inn redevelopment plan moved a step closer to approval this week, winning expressions of support and approval from Aspen’s elected leaders.
But the proposal is up for public scrutiny again at a continued hearing tonight, when the City Council will take up the question of whether the Bavarian Inn project should serve as “mitigation” for the proposed Grand Aspen Hotel redevelopment and the project known as the Top of Mill.
The Bavarian proposal is to take the existing 16-room lodge and convert it into a 19-unit affordable housing complex on two parcels at the intersection of North Seventh and Main streets.
The project has been anticipated for years, ever since Aspen voters approved construction of the former Ritz-Carlton Aspen hotel nearly a decade ago.
At that time the developer of the Ritz (now the St. Regis) pledged to turn the Bavarian into affordable housing at an undetermined future date. The Bavarian Inn was part of a complex web of landholdings owned by Savanah Limited Partnership, developer of the Ritz and one-time owner of the Aspen Meadows campus on the northwest side of town, as well as the Grand Aspen and the Top of Mill site.
Although some statements at the time of the election indicated the Bavarian project might result in up to 90 units, the first formal proposal in 1998 called for 31 units in several buildings spread across the two parcels.
But by September of this year, negotiations with neighbors and city officials had pared the project considerably.
Some examples of the “give and take” in the negotiations process were a reduction in density from 31 to 19 units, lowering the building heights, adding open space, and changing gabled roof designs to flat roofs in order to save existing view planes.
In addition, Savanah lopped off units to save certain trees that had once been tagged for removal, and shifted one unit’s location to save a couple of other trees.
At Monday’s City Council meeting, Savanah agreed to work with city officials to try to find a new location for two cabins on the Bavarian site, which are believed to have been moved there from the old Agate Lodge property a couple of blocks away.
There was also some question about the low relative density of the Bavarian project. Mayor Rachel Richards asked for information comparing the Bavarian project to others in the city. She was told that while the nearby West Hopkins project contained 11 units on 11,000 square feet of land, the Bavarian calls for 19 units on 36,000 square feet of land.
Richards noted that some city residents have criticized the council for approving affordable housing projects at densities that some say are too low, and she wondered if there wasn’t a way to build more units at the Bavarian. She requested more density comparisons for tonight’s meeting, which is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. in the basement of City Hall.
In other action, the council:
n Approved, on first reading, the $47.3 million city budget for the year 2000, with total operating expenses of $23.3 million and capital and debt amounts of $23.9 million. Second reading is scheduled for Dec. 6.
n Approved, after a public hearing, a new amendment to the city codes regulating the use of residential lighting in the city limits.
n Adopted, on first reading, amendments to the Uniform Building Code, including new provisions concerning energy consumption requirements for residential properties.
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I’m writing in strong favor of the affordable housing project that is under discussion with the county, and feel that Mick Ireland’s commentary Feb. 22 in the Daily News of hit the nail on the…