Emma Store still standing | AspenTimes.com

Emma Store still standing

Charles Agar
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Owen Minney is making his case on Tuesday.

At 10 a.m., Minney will go before Pitkin County commissioners in Aspen to discuss possibilities for preserving the Emma Store buildings on his property along Highway 82, between Basalt and El Jebel.

Minney claims he’s been denied time and again in a handful of proposals dating back to 1996.

He’s threatened to tear the building down before and said if Tuesday’s discussions fall through that he’ll demolish the structures within days.

“We’re going to present them an offer,” Minney said Monday evening. “We’re going to present some options for them that I would go for.”

Minney said he is hoping to turn the historic buildings into a free-standing monument and hopes the board will buy the land, but added he still was finalizing the proposal.

A staff memo outlining the history of the historic buildings, however, lists just two land-use applications amid years of discussions with Minney.

The board denied Minney the right to subdivide in October 1997, but there were no applications filed in the county until 2006 when Minney requested ” and the board denied him a demolition permit ” according to county documents.

Minney appealed and was granted a demolition permit in July 2006.

A hearing officer in November 2006 granted Minney’s request to add the historic Mather House on his property to the historic inventory in exchange for the right to build a 5,750-square-foot building, according to the background document.

But Minney did not record the historic covenant nor the site plan review for the right to build.

Minney held an informal discussion with the board Sept. 11, 2007, to look at possibilities for preserving the buildings.

At the meeting, Minney demanded some $3 million in grants, tax incentives or transferable development rights, according to the memo. The board suggested he “re-evaluate some aspects of the proposal” and continue discussions.

Minney then requested, and community development officials granted him, an extension to his demolition permit (valid until Sept. 18) and, in recent weeks, he asked for a permit to work in the Rio Grande Trail right of way to demolish the buildings.

Minney also has turned to Basalt officials to save the buildings, but was denied annexation into the town, according to county documents. And the Basalt Library District chose not to pursue Minney’s suggestion to use the land for a new library.

Tuesday’s meeting is just a discussion. If the county is interested in working with Minney, according to the memo, commissioners could purchase or condemn the portion of the property containing the historic buildings, a move that could be funded through a tax increase (requiring voter approval), grants and contributions, or it could come out of the county general fund.