City to mull residences, deck for Aspen building

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – A proposal to allow the owners of the Aspen Athletic Club Building and Condominiums to begin project negotiations for three residential units and a rooftop deck is expected to be discussed at Tuesday’s regular City Council meeting.

The deck’s center would contain a small convex skylight not visible from the street and above height regulations, but the building already rises higher than the current limit, city officials say.

The owners of the three-story building – constructed in 1976 and designed by Aspen architect Robyn Molny – also are asking the city to waive the prescribed $90,000 cash-in-lieu fee for three parking spaces the project would create: one space for each unit. There is no place to build parking on the property.

Two free-market units would be located on the building’s third floor, while the third unit, on the second floor, would provide affordable housing. One of the free-market units, at 2,750 square feet, would exceed city zoning codes by 250 square feet.

Also under the ordinance, the athletic-club building, which sits at the corner of East Hyman Avenue and Original Street on a 9,000-square-foot lot, would be designated as a historic building. Molny is “a significant local architect who was part of the local Frank Lloyd Wright constituent,” a memorandum from the Community Development Department states. Other Aspen structures he designed include the Mason and Morse Building and the Hearthstone House, both located on Hyman Avenue and both part of the city’s inventory of modern historic structures.

Should council members vote to introduce the ordinance – the customary route for the first reading of a proposal – they will then work through the project’s details and negotiate over issues such as parking, affordable housing, height and other design aspects in exchange for the previously mentioned development concessions under the city’s AspenModern program. Inclusion in the program allows the city the authority to review any proposed changes as a way of protecting the historic structure.

The city’s Community Development Department recommends approval and rates the building’s historical value highly. A large majority of the project involves interior changes, converting office space into residential space, the memo from senior planner Sara Adams states.

“The proposed changes are mostly internal to the building and do not impact the historic significance of the architecture. The size of the free-market residential units does not add mass or height to the existing building, which is typically a concern on other AspenModern projects,” her memo states.

Tenants of the building include Timberline Bank.

Though the council typically meets for a regular session on the second and fourth Mondays of each month, next week the council gathers on Tuesday at 5 p.m. because City Hall is closed on Monday for Memorial Day.