CMC’s Aspen expansion could include dorms |

CMC’s Aspen expansion could include dorms

Colorado Mountain College officials are considering expanding their Aspen campus to include housing for as many as 175 students and a new hospitality and culinary program, Aspen’s dean said Wednesday.

And while the effort to raise the millions necessary for the project is only in the beginning stages and has not yet been approved by the college’s elected board, CMC officials have determined they own the requisite acreage to accommodate the proposed student housing and increased academic programming, said Linda Crockett, dean of CMC’s Aspen campus.

“We did a site plan … and found that we have enough (land) for that residential space and the academics could double in size,” she said. “So it would be a residential campus rather than just a commuter campus.”

The CMC Board of Trustees, elected officials who represent Pitkin, Garfield, Eagle, Summit, Lake and part of Routt counties, is scheduled to meet May 22 in Rifle to talk about and possibly give preliminary approval to the Aspen campus fundraising campaign, according to the meeting’s agenda.

Approval from the board would authorize staff to move forward with determining whether a fundraising campaign is feasible and what that would look like, said Debbie Crawford, CMC spokeswoman. Final approval to start the fundraising campaign likely wouldn’t begin until the board votes on the question for a third time in October, she said.

Still, CMC has already received two $1 million donation pledges toward the Aspen project, Crockett said.

“It’s wonderful,” she said. “It’s such a strong show of support.”

CMC wants to expand the Aspen campus — located west of the Aspen Business Center and across from the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport — to accommodate “traditional” students who want to live in Aspen and take advantage of programs offered here, Crockett said.

While the campus currently serves about 1,300 students and caters mainly to community needs, it also attracts some students who commute from places like Rifle, she said. Programs that bring students to Aspen include the Isaacson School for New Media, pre-nursing classes and other associate degrees, Crockett said.

“We’re looking to bring in new programs as well … in hospitality and culinary (training),” she said.

CMC officials have spoken to hospitality and culinary businesses in town and hope to form partnerships with some of the larger employers such as Aspen Skiing Co., Crockett said. In those preliminary discussions, businesses have emphasized the need for interns, she said.

For the hospitality/culinary program to succeed, housing is essential, Crockett said.

“That’s the barrier for so many people,” she said.

CMC is looking at providing housing for 150 to 175 students, though that number has not yet been determined, Crockett said. Crawford also emphasized the exact number of proposed student housing units is not yet set.

They would likely take the form of studio apartments, Crockett said. The college also would provide some sort of food service on campus that could include a cafe and a small market, she said.

“The site plan is done,” Crockett said. “We know it would work on the grounds.”

Crockett declined to say how much the entire project would cost and wasn’t sure exactly how much land CMC owns in the area. She referred those questions to Kristin Colon, CEO of the Colorado Mountain College Foundation, who did not return a phone message Wednesday.

The ABC area is the subject of several possible and probable developments in the near future.

Voters last year approved a property tax that will fund 12 to 14 units for Aspen Fire Department employees near the agency’s North 40 Fire Station. Aspen airport officials also have talked about building parking facilities in area on land that agency owns on the north side of Highway 82.

In addition, the city of Aspen recently announced plans not only to begin developing the third and final phase of the Burlingame Ranch development east of the ABC, but also to develop affordable housing at the Harbert Lumber site it owns between the ABC and Burlingame.

Crockett said CMC officials are aware of development concerns in the area.

“We’re trying to be very sensitive to that,” she said. “We’re trying to keep the impacts as neutral as we can.”

The CMC Board of Trustees is scheduled to take its first action on the Aspen Campus project at its Rifle meeting between 12:45 and 1:30 p.m. May 22, according to the meeting’s agenda. The meeting will take place at the CMC Rifle Campus, 3695 Airport Road, in rooms 162-164.