Council wants new City Hall toned down
The new Aspen City Hall doesn’t need to be a grandiose structure with glass, steel, a fitness center and other features that might feed the perception of government excess.
That’s what elected officials on Aspen City Council told staff members and architects who provided an update on the civic space relocation project at a work session Monday.
“Government should be felt, not seen,” said Steve Skadron, responding to a $48.3 million plan that calls for vacating the current City Hall at Galena Street and Hopkins Avenue and building a new, 51,900-square-foot one on the land currently used by the Rio Grande building, where Taster’s Pizza is, and the Aspen Chamber Resort Association. It also calls for building a new Aspen Police Department with 14,900 square feet and 10 employee-housing units at 540 E. Main St.
The police station is vacating its location at the courthouse, which is owned by the state. The Aspen Chamber Resort Association is looking at interim spaces at either 426 E. Main St. and 121 S. Galena, with a long-term option of renting space at the Armory Hall, where City Hall currently is located, and possibly buying the Millennium Building at 426 E. Main St.
The city has maintained that it needs the space to put the bulk of its services — including the Building and Housing departments, which are located outside of the current City Hall building — in a centralized location.
Other than Councilman Bert Myrin, the other four members of council support constructing a new City Hall. But they found the conceptual renderings out of step with their vision, noting that they didn’t want to see a monument to government be built.
Monday’s talks were the latest round in what will be a drawn-out process as City Council and staff mull various aspects of the project, ranging from its scope and scale, the services it provides, and the architectural materials that will be used. Among the other aspects of the negotiations are the size and feel of City Council Chambers, the size of city staff and how the building will accommodate it, possibly building an on-site cafe or restaurant, and the future use of Armory Hall, which Aspen voters approved for community use in an advisory vote in November.
Jack Wheeler, the city’s capital asset manager, said he expects to show the council more detailed designs at a meeting next month.
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