Final bids for former art museum building due today |

Final bids for former art museum building due today

Staff report
Andre Salvail/The Aspen Times

The general public will have access to new information submitted by five proposed users of the Old Power House building on North Mill Street beginning at 3 p.m. today, the city of Aspen announced Thursday.

The would-be tenants — vying to take over the space that was leased by the Aspen Art Museum at a rate of $10 per year for 36 years — have a deadline of 2 p.m. today to submit their final bids. City spokeswoman Mitzi Rapkin said those bids will be copied and posted on the city’s website for public review one hour later.

The bids can be found at:

The Aspen City Council will have the ultimate say on the decision. Council members will review the five proposals on Monday and Tuesday during work sessions at 5 p.m and 4 p.m., respectively. No public comment will be taken at those meetings, which are designed to give officials time to question the applicants.

Input about the building’s proposed uses were accepted on the city’s Open City Hall forum starting in February 2013. The last comment was posted in May. Overall, 91 comments were logged, Rapkin said.

The city will allow more public input at a meeting set for March 10 at 4 p.m. Council members first will discuss their evaluations of each proposal, and at 5:30 p.m. will open up the work session to resident comments, Rapkin said.

A decision could be reached at the March 10 meeting or another meeting March 17.

“It is possible (the council) may choose not to proceed with any of the finalists,” Rapkin said.

The five applicants are the finalists who made the cut in early January following a city vetting process that weeded out other potential users.

Here is a rundown of the five proposals, based on information gleaned from previous meetings and written proposals. The new bids released today could involve slight or significant departures from the following concepts:

• Power Plant Brewery: Aspen Brewing Co. owner Duncan Class wants to put a brewing operation in the ground-level space, while a separate entity would manage a collaborative workspace upstairs. The ground level also would feature an Aspen 82 television studio, broadcasting community events hosted by the brewery.

• Power House Aspen: A traditional community center that includes modern ideas about human interaction. Ideas include movie nights, dancing, a cafe, spiritual rituals, weddings and other social events.

• Powerhouse Performance and Event Center: A submission from the Red Brick Center for the Arts that calls for rehearsal areas and an exhibition space with seating for as many as 150 people.

• Aspen Media Powerhouse: An idea from GrassRoots TV that involves using the building as a studio and archives center, while allowing public participation and education related to various media systems.

• Aspen Science Center: An exhibition space with outdoor features and indoor laboratories designed to educate and entertain youths and adults alike on topics related to science and technology.

At previous city meetings and open houses, the public has expressed favor for the structure to be some type of center for the community that supports multiple users. Council members have suggested that the uses have a “memory-making quality” and a “wow factor,” Rapkin said.

The council has yet to decide if the new tenant, if chosen, will be made to pay a lease in line with the terms the Aspen Art Museum enjoyed beginning in 1979.

The city began examining new uses for the 7,200-square-foot structure a few years ago as the art museum was proceeding with construction on its new building on East Hyman Avenue. The new museum building opened in August.

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