City of Aspen gives developers more time to make way for new chairlift
In other council action:
Aspen City Council gave its blessing for the Aspen Ambulance District to build a new, 13,000-square-foot facility on the hospital campus off of Castle Creek Road.
Council agreed to grant a variance and allow the building to be 33 feet tall so its mechanical systems can be inside rather than on the roof. It was a request of neighbors immediately to the south of the facility, in the Twin Ridge neighborhood. Staff recommended the height limit that’s in the land use code, which is 28 feet.
But as a first for many elected officials, neighbors not only approved of the project but also wanted it taller. They want to mask any sounds from the building’s mechanical systems as much as possible.
“I would much rather see this building than hear it,” said one resident.
The facility is estimated to cost $7.5 million.
Aspen City Council on Monday night granted a two-year extension of development rights to the owners of the already approved Lift One Lodge at the base of Ajax.
Developer Michael Brown, who along with his brother Aaron and other investors, asked for three years of vested rights to ensure the project remains financially viable as they continue to work with others in an attempt to move the Lift 1A chairlift farther into town.
Two options for bringing the lift down the west side of the base of Aspen Mountain will be presented to council May 15.
Council has granted two other vested right extensions for the Lift One Lodge since it was approved. They were both for two years, so council chose the same amount of time to remain consistent, and to stay within 10 years of the original approval. Monday’s extension takes the entitlements to November 2021.
Approved plans call for an 84-room hotel divided into 22 fractional-ownership units that would encompass 77,000 square feet on the east side of South Aspen Street. Also part of the approval are five free-market units, subgrade parking and dormitory-style affordable housing. That will all be on land where the historic Skiers Chalet Lodge and the old Lift One alignment sit.
Brown and his partners have been willing to put their project on hold while they work with developers of the proposed Gorsuch Haus hotel and Aspen Skiing Co. on a new lift alignment.
Council and the community have voiced strong support for bringing a new chairlift — which Gorsuch Haus developers would pay for — as far down as Dean Street.
“We’ve really turned a corner in working together in this process,” Brown told council. “It’s on a good path right now.”
He noted that his group is taking a lot of financial risk and they don’t want to jeopardize their entitlements if the negotiations fail.
Jessica Garrow, the city’s Community Development director, said there are two viable chairlift options for all parties involved. If council agrees to one of them, her department has a very aggressive schedule for review in June and July.
A public vote would be required this November since the lift would go over dedicated open space. Ballot language would need to be written in August, Garrow said.
Councilman Adam Frisch said he hoped a lift alignment can be agreed upon and they can get over the hump of public hearings this summer in time for a vote. He said he is anxious to see the chairlift options.
“Hopefully we walk out of a very productive meeting on the 15th of May,” he said.
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Onsite parking won out over a Turkish bath at a new lodge planned to be built across from City Market. Aspen’s elected officials didn’t want to burden the neighborhood with offsite parking for the new hotel.