City poised to delay Grand Aspen’s demolition |

City poised to delay Grand Aspen’s demolition

Sarah S. Chung

There’s a good chance the Grand Aspen Hotel will remain standing another year, this time to provide seasonal housing.

The Aspen City Council leaned Monday toward granting the hotel its third stay of execution, approving on first reading a proposal to grant a third extension on the demolition permit for the building, which was scheduled to be razed starting Oct. 1.

The hotel’s owner, Savanah Limited Partnership, has proposed leasing the rooms to the Aspen Skiing Co. for worker housing this winter and to the Music Associates of Aspen for student housing next summer. A key difference in this extension, however, is that the Grand Aspen will no longer serve as a hotel.

Final approval is scheduled later this month.

The general sentiment voiced by the city planning staff, council members and the public was that it makes more sense to use the hotel for seasonal housing than to tear it down this fall and leave a “big hole” in the ground at Galena and Dean streets.

But the proposal did have its detractors, including the hotel’s neighbors, who have been critical about maintenance of the hotel.

“It’s a wreck,” said Doug Nehasil, representing several homeowners’ associations that have members around the hotel.

Neighbors aren’t opposed to using the hotel as employee housing, but they noted that repeatedly putting off the hotel’s demolition has left the building in disrepair, with only its front facade being rigorously kept up.

Nehasil also voiced concern that, without strict supervision, Skico employees may turn the hotel into Aspen’s version of an “Animal House” fraternity.

Skico attorney Dave Bellack assured the council that a full-time manager would be living on the premises. Bellack also told council members that the current Grand Aspen maintenance staff has been approached about staying on through the winter.

Originally, Savanah had planned a demolition and construction schedule around receiving its final approvals for a new hotel at the site by the end of this year. But, its revised conceptual plan has yet to go to the council.

Now, construction of the new hotel is expected to start next fall, if final approvals are in place by next summer.

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