City OKs Stage 3 redevelopment | AspenTimes.com
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City OKs Stage 3 redevelopment

ASPEN The fifth time proved to be the charm for the Stage 3 Theatres redevelopment project, which won subdivision approval Monday night from a frustrated and divided Aspen City Council.The vote was 3-1, with Councilman Torre dissenting. Councilwoman Jasmine Tygre, who voted on the proposal when it came before the Planning and Zoning Commission late last year, recused herself from the discussion.The council was debating a redevelopment plan that called for demolition of the old cinema building at 625 E. Main St. and its replacement by a three-story mixed-use building that includes office or retail space on the ground floor, affordable housing and free-market apartments above, and a rooftop deck to be shared by all residents of the building.”I don’t know what we’re doing,” an exasperated Mayor Helen Klanderud declared. “We’re negotiating this design piece by piece!”Klanderud was responding to continuing objections from Torre, who was arguing for more open space and less mass, and Councilman Jack Johnson, who wanted more affordable housing, along with other changes to the building’s design.Torre, for example, wanted the developer to put a vertical “notch” in the northeast corner of the building, where it butts up against its nearest neighbor to the east, in order to lessen the sense of mass the adjoining buildings create. He also wanted more greenery around the building. Neither request was granted.Johnson argued for more affordable housing during each one of the four previous times the proposal came before the council. He stuck with his guns initially on Monday, but suddenly declared around 9:30 p.m. that he was dropping his objection and changing his vote, “against my better judgment.”Saying he was weary of the debate, Johnson added, “I don’t want to see this project ever again until it is built; and I don’t even really want to see it then.”Other objections came from a packed council chambers, as some neighbors demanded the new building be shorter, have more open space and greenery around it, and not feature a large “community deck” on the roof that neighbors fear will become a party magnet, among other concerns.Other neighbors, though, lauded developer Jeffrey Jones and Aspen Main Street Properties LP, for working with them and the city to satisfy a variety of demands. But even some of those who spoke approvingly had issues to be addressed. Among the developer’s concessions at Monday’s meeting were: the retention of a walkway through from Main Street to the alleyway to the south; additional parking through the use of “lifts” that will mean each space will have two cars stacked vertically for a total of 24 to 28 spaces; the replacement of a small office space with an affordable housing unit, bringing the housing total to five affordable and five free-market; and an agreement that all residents could use the rooftop deck, not simply the free-market owners, as had originally been the plan.The project met or exceeded the city’s requirements in all criteria, staff planner Jessica Garrow noted. But Community Development Director Chris Bendon reminded the council that it needed to add a couple of provisions to the ordinance, such as a prohibition against inclusion of a restaurant as one of the commercial uses in the mixed-use project.John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com


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