Boomerang redevelopment plan pulled

Carolyn Sackariason
The Aspen Times
The Boomerang Lodge on Hopkins Avenue in Aspen has been empty for more than a decade. A new ownership group wants to redevelop it into lodge rooms and condos.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times |

Citing that there’s been too much time, energy and money going into a possible redevelopment of the Boomerang Lodge, the developers have pulled their proposed project.

Aspen City Council was slated Monday night to review a land-use application that called for 10,000 square feet less than what was originally proposed, but with fewer lodge rooms and more free-market condos at larger sizes, among other things.

Knowing the issues city staff and council have with the programming and other elements of the proposal, land-use consultant Chris Bendon on Monday withdrew their application, which sought to amend a lodging approval from 2006.

“It wasn’t a good use of their time or money to keep going forward,” he said. “We don’t want to waste anyone’s time.”

“It wasn’t a good use of their time or money to keep going forward.” — Chris Bendon, land use consultant

Bendon represents developers Marshall Tycher and Eric Witmondt, principals of ME Aspen Ventures One LLC.

Even if council granted them nearly everything they were asking for, the economics were shaky at best. But they were willing to give it a try — up until now, Bendon told council.

“The margins are razor-thin,” he said. “(Marshall and Eric) put a lot of energy into the project and the changes. … They took it seriously.”

Tycher and Witmondt have been under contract to buy the West Hopkins property for about a year. The current owner is FSP ABR LLC, and has been represented in the past by Aspen developer Steve Stunda.

That group received approval in 2006 to build a four-story, 47-room lodge at 45,000 square feet, along with free-market condos, affordable housing and an underground parking garage.

Those approvals remain and a building permit can be pulled in the next eight weeks before development rights go away, according to Jessica Garrow, the city’s community development director.

Whether that will happen was anyone’s guess Monday night.

“The property will come back, but likely not a lodge,” Bendon told the council, surmising that the economics to build small lodges don’t pencil out anymore with the high cost of doing business in Aspen.

The 1950s-era lodge, which has been partially demolished, has been mired in numerous hurdles over the past 17 years —government bureaucracy, a recession, challenging market forces and neighborhood opposition.

Since the original owners, Charles and Fonda Paterson, sold the property in 2005, there have been more than a half dozen development proposals that were brought forward but died for various reasons.

On Monday night, council members expressed their disappointment at what they say could have been a great project that fills a need for affordable lodging in town.

“Besides the Boomerang site and Lift 1A, which is playing out, I don’t know where a lodge of 20 or 30 rooms would go,” said Councilman Adam Frisch, adding if the property becomes two single-family homes and some affordable housing it would be a loss for the community. “I’m still of the belief that this property is one of the last places for a lodge in town.”


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