Downtown Aspen building owner ready for redevelopment |

Downtown Aspen building owner ready for redevelopment

Contributed imageThis artist's rendering shows the latest plan for the Mountain Plaza building, which occupies one of Aspen's most visible street corners.

ASPEN – After being shot down by the Aspen City Council last year, the owner of the Mountain Plaza building located in the heart of downtown has introduced a smaller redevelopment scenario.

Mark Bidwell, who owns the building at Galena Street and the Cooper Avenue Mall, along with local architects Rowland+Broughton and land planner Mitch Haas, held a community open house on Tuesday to show the public their plans.

Tuesday’s unveiling was a preview of the project before it goes to conceptual design review in front of the historic preservation commission July 22.

Bidwell said he was prompted to hold the open house after the owners of the Wienerstube building in 2007 were denied their redevelopment plans partly because they didn’t reach out to neighbors.

The proposed plan includes a mixed-use building incorporating retail, commercial, residential and affordable housing components. One of the goals in the redesign is to increase pedestrian activity at one of Aspen’s most popular street corners, East Cooper Avenue and South Galena Street.

Rowland+Broughton envision a structure of varying heights, with a modern design that incorporates western vernacular and pedestrian amenity space. A modular design program would give the building the appearance of three separate structures, according to the architects. The building also would be set back from the mall and street corners to break down the massing and to be sympathetic to the overall scale.

The building has been scaled down from its earlier version – 2,000 square feet has been reduced from the free-market condos that are planned for the third level. Another 2,000 square feet of commercial space has been removed from the second floor, and the street-level portion of the building would house more than 1,000 square feet of retail space.

The subgrade open area, which is now empty but most recently housed Noori’s Collection, would remain a 3,400-square-foot commercial area for perhaps a restaurant.

Because there’s no structure on that part of the property, the opening offers a sight line for people sitting across the street at Paradise Bakery.

The prior plan proposed the area be eliminated and a solid structure built to the lot line on the pedestrian mall.

The subterranean retail or restaurant space was originally slated to be the first floor of a three-level underground parking garage. Now, that garage would be two levels, accommodating 10 parking spaces, storage and mechanical rooms.

The original redevelopment application called for demolishing the existing 11,800-square-foot structure and making it nearly twice as large. Now, the application calls for 18,078 square feet and 25 feet at its tallest point.

The council in May 2008 denied the application and then in July of that same year, voted to remand the redevelopment plan back to the planning and zoning, and historic preservation commissions, for further review.

Bidwell has been in the planning process since 2005 and has been subject to more than a dozen public meetings.

“After we went through all the steps, we thought everything was in good order,” he said of what he thought was a solid land-use application.

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