City of Aspen wants to know public’s favorite buildings, spaces |

City of Aspen wants to know public’s favorite buildings, spaces

Ben Anderson (right), who is a new planner with the city of Aspen, explains in simple terms what the land-use code is to a curious cyclist on Wednesday. This summer, the city will periodically set up so-called pop-up workshops around town to get feedback about land-use issues.
Rick Carroll/The Aspen Times |

The city’s freeze on commercial development might not be at the top of folks’ minds this week, which traditionally marks the beginning of Aspen’s summer season with the Food & Wine Classic.

Even so, the city is trying to capture the opinions of people sauntering through the streets and malls of downtown Aspen this week. On Wednesday, employees from the Community Development Department were collecting feedback from residents and visitors about their favorite buildings and public spaces in Aspen.

The so-called pop-up work session returns to the same location, from 2 to 5 p.m. today, on the Cooper Avenue pedestrian mall next to the fire pit and across from Paradise Bakery.

“With this series of pop-ups it’s another way to get feedback,” said Jessica Garrow, head of the Community Development Department, as she placed Post-it notes on a board showing what people had selected as their favorite buildings and places.

Among them: the Ute City building, the skateboard park and, yes, even the Aspen Art Museum, the polarizing structure that opened in 2014.

Other questions posed addressed parking and both affordable and free-market housing in the commercial zone districts. Early responses expressed “no housing downtown,” “affordable housing = millennial housing,” and “no housing of any kind downtown.”

Also Wednesday, the city launched its new website,, which includes surveys and feedback forms for all things land use, including the development moratorium, commercial design standards, off-street parking, use mix and view planes.

Garrow said the feedback the city collects will be incorporated into future discussions with the City Council concerning the alignment of the land-use code with the Aspen Area Community Plan. The land-use code provides legal framework for how property can be used in Aspen. The community plan, however, has no legal teeth. Instead, its a summary of residents’ vision for the city’s buildings, building-sizes, affordable-housing, traffic and quality-of-life issues.

The two documents often are odds during land-use hearings at so the city is trying to have them match each other.

And in March, the City Council passed an emergency ordinance aimed at downzoning the commercial core district and the commercial district on the west side of town. That ordinance placed a ban on the filing of land-use applications in the city’s commercial, service-commercial-industrial, neighborhood commercial and mixed-zone districts. The moratorium, set to expire Feb. 28, means there can be no expansion of net leasable or livable space in the targeted districts.


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