Commission: Lift One Lodge not ready for prime time
Members of the Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission mostly lauded the design and intentions of the Lift One Lodge project but still voted Tuesday to delay making a decision until their next meeting March 15.
The commission voted 5-1 to continue the public hearing. Member Ryan Walterscheid cast the dissenting vote.
The planning commission’s call on the project could be the deciding vote; however, City Council could opt to call up the project for its own review.
In the meantime, Planning and Zoning commissioners instructed the applicant, Lift One Lodge Aspen LLC, to tweak some details of the hotel that would be built on Lot 1, part of the four-lot subdivision that also would include affordable housing in the Skiers Chalet Steakhouse, Lift 1 on another lot and relocating the Skiers Chalet Lodge, which would house an Aspen Historical Society Museum.
Lot 1, which also would include a platter lift to ferry skiers to the base of Lift 1A, is located at the foot of Aspen Mountain on a parcel beneath the site for the planned Gorsuch Haus, a 75,000-square-foot, 61-room hotel.
Developers have touted both hotels and their accompanying retail amenities as a way to reinvigorate the Lift 1A base, which represents a major significance in Aspen’s skiing heritage but currently is a near-lifeless area with empty buildings.
The Lift One Lodge applicant, controlled by brothers Aaron and Michael Brown and Los Angeles developer Jason Grosfeld, went to the Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday seeking approval of minor amendments to the 77,000-square-foot lodge, which already has approval for 84 hotel keys divided into 22 fractional-ownership units, five free-market units and an underground parking garage with 163 spaces, 50 of which would be for public use.
The most significant change is increasing the lodge’s net leasable space from the previously approved 5,263 square feet to 23,676 square feet. The building’s footprint, however, would not change.
The additional commercial area, previously approved for a private club, “is the best way to add vitality” in an area in dear need of it, Michael Brown said.
“If we could have enough traffic and make people want to come to that area that will make the project a success for the community,” he added.
Developers also have committed to mitigate affordable-housing requirements at 100 percent rather than the required 60 percent.
Commissioners universally touted the project. But commissioners Jasmine Tygre and Brian McNellis expressed reservations about the project’s architecture. Tygre’s primary concern was the amount of light that will come from the glass-laden lodge.
“This is located up the hill where all of that light will be leaking out of the building,” she said. “I think that’s going to be a real eyesore. If there’s anything you can do to reduce the amount of glass, you’ll get my support.”
McNellis said his chief issue was how the materiality of the building’s architecture “affects our historic landscape.”
Walterscheid, however, questioned whether the planning commissioners were injecting their own biases into the developer’s vision.
“Everybody is going to have a different opinion on what it should look like,” he said. “This is not a detriment to the community; it’s looking forward and not taking a step back.”
As proposed, “The basic form and scale of the building is maintained while treatment of the facade is amended to a more contemporary architecture,” reads a memo from the city’s long-range planner, Jessica Garrow, to the commission. The memo notes that “approved materials include a stone base and wood cladding. The proposed design retains a stone base and wood cladding while introducing additional windows to the design.”
Lift One Lodge Aspen LLC bought the property for $22 million from Roaring Fork Mountain Lodge-Aspen LLC in May 2015.
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Mountain Rescue Aspen is expanding its education efforts to try to keep people safe in the backcountry during winters and summers. It will host a workshop on Dec. 8 titled, “How to Plan a Backcountry Tour.”