Developers of Dancing Bear can do victory jig
Aspen Times Staff Writer
With its controversial rooftop gazebo intact, but smaller, the proposed Dancing Bear Lodge narrowly won approval Monday from the Aspen City Council.
The added height of the glass gazebo atop a three-story timeshare lodge troubled the council last month and members sent a frustrated design team back to the drawing board.
The latest iteration of the plan retains the gazebo, but its floor area is smaller, and it is now placed in the center of the roof, with a 24-foot setback from all four sides of the top of the third story.
The changes make the element less visible, said architect David Brown.
“We squeezed it in every direction,” he said. “We’ve made it smaller.
“I think it’s very unlikely that this would be seen – certainly not significantly from anywhere at street level,” he said.
The 1,580-square-foot gazebo, to house a lounge and exercise room, is a key amenity for the lodge, giving it a “competitive edge” in Aspen’s burgeoning timeshare hotel market, added Mitch Haas, planning consultant on the project.
“I think it prevents making the lodge ordinary,” he said.
Council members did not disagree, but Councilmen Torre and Terry Paulson said they couldn’t accept the height of the proposed structure, to be constructed on the northwest corner of Durant Avenue and Monarch Street.
It sets a precedent that will force the owners of the Limelight Lodge to the north, for example, to eventually propose a redevelopment that is just as tall or taller, Torre predicted.
“He’s right,” said Dale Paas, whose family owns the Limelight.
“I like what I see here, but you know what, it still starts the domino effect on height,” Paulson said. “This is going to stick out like a big sore thumb. I just can’t go there.”
Councilman Tim Semrau called the building’s height a stretch, but concluded the gazebo is a “fabulous” component that makes the building unique.
The council did require that the glass be nonreflective and that interior window coverings be provided to block emanating light at night.
Councilwoman Rachel Richards voted to approve the project along with Semrau and Mayor Helen Klanderud, though Richards called it a “very, very tough call.”
The lodge will be 31.6 feet high at the top of the third floor at Durant and Monarch, and 38 feet high at the opposite corner, as the land drops in elevation. The top of the gazebo will be about 45 feet high; the elevator shaft on the roof will top out at 46 feet, 6 inches.
At the earliest, construction of the Dancing Bear could begin next spring, depending on property owner Michael Egan’s wishes, Brown said. It would replace the vacant Aspen Manor lodge on the parcel.
The project includes nine three-bedroom suites to be sold in one-eighth shares. Two two-bedroom employee units and a deli/coffee shop on the first floor, to be open to the public, are also in the plans.
[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]
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