Council gives OK to new Stage 3 design |

Council gives OK to new Stage 3 design

Andre SalvailThe Aspen TimesAspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – The Aspen City Council on Monday approved a new plan for the former Stage 3 theater space on East Main Street, giving the owner of the property the green light to proceed with development of the three-year downtown eyesore.The vote to approve the mixed-use project was 4-1, with Councilman Torre dissenting. Torre said that while he liked much of owner Jeff Cardot’s ideas for the property, he would vote against it on principle given that Cardot said there was no room for further negotiations.In other words, if Cardot’s plan – which had support from the city Planning and Zoning Commission through a 4-0 vote in March, as well as the site’s neighbors – did not pass intact, he would revert to a previously approved design that called for a taller building with more residential units and parking spaces.”My blessings, but not my vote,” Torre told Cardot.Construction on the site by its former developer, Dallas-based Aspen Main Street Properties, stalled during the recession in late 2008 after the concrete foundation and much of the infrastructure had been completed. According to one source, that company had invested around $19 million in the property for the purchase of the land and old building, which was razed; preparing a new development plan and getting approval from the city of Aspen; then starting construction.In 2006, Aspen Main Street Properties earned city approvals for a 27,000-square-foot mixed-use building with office and retail space, five free-market residences, five affordable-housing units and 28 parking spaces. Alpine Bank foreclosed on the project in August 2009, claiming that Aspen Main Street Properties defaulted on a $4.7 million loan. The development firm filed for bankruptcy to avoid foreclosure, then enlisted Sheldon Good & Co. of Denver to auction the property. Cardot, a financial trader from Chicago who is a part-time homeowner in Snowmass Village, was the winner among a smaller-than-expected pool of bidders when he bought it last August for what was considered an extremely low price, $3.6 million.Cardot told councilmembers that he plans to live in one of the building’s residential units with his family. He and architect Adam Roy spoke Monday of “a vastly different project” than the one approved five years ago, listing the following changes:• A 12-foot reduction in the already built elevator shaft.• Reduced building height by more than 8.5 feet.• An increase in the setbacks from neighbors on the south side of the building by almost 20 feet.• Reduced mass and scale.• Reduced total floor area ratio (FAR) of about 2,200 square feet.• Reduced density from 10 to five residential units, which includes two affordable-housing (category 4) and three free-market units.• Reduced onsite parking from 26 to 16 spaces, of which 13 would be contained in a sub-grade garage.• Removal of the rooftop party deck.The building would also include three commercial spaces and one office space. Interim Councilwoman Ruth Kruger, a commercial real estate broker, pointed out during the meeting that she felt there might not be enough parking spaces in the plan to serve the commercial spaces. She warned Cardot that the lack of onsite parking might hinder his efforts in securing leases for the property.In a rare show of harmony between a developer and neighbors of a proposed development, several full- and part-time Aspen residents applauded the council’s decision after the vote. Earlier in the meeting, they spoke up, saying they preferred Cardot’s plan to the former designs and added that they were tired of looking at and dealing with the partially built lot, a spot where some of the city’s homeless have sometimes spent the