City of Aspen might provide incubator workspace in City Hall building
A majority of Aspen City Council wants dedicated space in the current City Hall so the government can provide work areas for incubator businesses or other community uses.
That was the direction given earlier this month to project managers in charge of programming the city’s new 37,500-square-foot office building between Rio Grande Place and Galena Plaza.
As part of the nearly $50 million project, the current City Hall, also known the Armory, will be renovated.
Council, with Mayor Torre in the minority, chose earlier this month to move council chambers and other meeting space to the new building and lease the ground floor of the Armory to the Aspen Chamber Resort Association for its offices and visitor center.
The basement of the Armory, where council chambers and the Sister Cities room are currently, would be set aside for “community uses.”
“I think it’s suitable for incubator space,” said Councilwoman Rachel Richards. “There seems to be an emphasis on giving room to the next generation of businesses.
“For me, it’s about having options,” she continued. “We have more demand for community space than we have room for.”
Council had previously directed staff to keep the Old Power House building on North Mill Street open in the future for community use.
Currently that building houses ACRA and a few city departments.
Councilman Ward Hauenstein said he’d like to see that building used as a child care facility, which Aspen has a dearth of and is driving many families out of the community as a result.
“That’s a lot bigger community need to me than performance or community space,” he said.
Hauenstein and his fellow council members want the new building to be 100% programmed for employees and designed efficiently so that there is room left over in the Armory to have a space open for public use.
“I like business incubator space or community uses in the Armory,” Hauenstein said.
Councilman Skippy Mesirow emphasized that the priority is to provide productive space for employees, but if there is room left over, he would like to see space for local businesses to set up shop in the Armory, or an indoor farmers market. He also said he wants child and infant care provided for the public so they can participate in government meetings.
The current council chambers and Sister Cities room also could be designed as a multipurpose, flexible space, according to city officials.
There is a shared workspace business on Cooper Avenue, and developer Mark Hunt plans to lease to a global workspace company in the building he’s redeveloping on Hopkins Avenue, just a couple hundred feet from the current council chambers.
The renovations and additional offices are designed to provide adequate space for city employees to work and centralized locations for the public.
Currently, municipal employees are working in cramped office space in City Hall, or are spread throughout town in rented buildings that cost the local government more than $500,000 a year.
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