Final hour for Wienerstube proposal
ASPEN ” It’s decision time for the future of the Wienerstube building.
The Aspen City Council is expected to vote Monday on a development application that, if approved, will transform the building into a three-story complex with residential and commercial spaces.
The entire parcel, which includes the adjacent parking lot, is 18,000 square feet and is located at the corner of Hyman Avenue and Spring Street. The current building houses the longtime Wienerstube restaurant and Ajax Bike and Sports.
The project, which has been in the review process for nearly two years, was about to be shot down by the council on Dec. 3.
Realizing that it was about to be denied by the three-member council, the Wienerstube development team opted to continue its application until Jan. 28 to rework the plan, even though the proposal meets the city’s land-use code regulations and has been recommended for approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission, and city staff.
New to the offering is reducing the number of parking spaces from 47 off-street spaces to 23 or 24, plus paying an extra $469,294 as a cash-in-lieu payment for affordable housing.
Whether the council goes for the proposed amendments remains to be seen. Council members wanted the development team to redesign the plan to include commercial space in the sub-grade portion of the building and that could end up being a sticking point.
Mayor Mick Ireland told the development team Dec. 3 that he would rather see more affordable housing than parking.
Stan Clauson, the project’s planning consultant, wrote a six-page letter on Jan. 22 to the council explaining why the proposal should be approved and why commercial space below grade isn’t possible.
“This concept has been carefully reviewed by the owners, who believe that it does not represent a feasible direction for a building, which is otherwise providing substantial and expensive community benefits,” Clauson wrote. “[Below-grade commercial] would require yet another complete redesign of the already approved building design.”
At the Dec. 3 public hearing, several neighbors spoke out against the project, arguing that their views will be ruined by the new building, and the project doesn’t fit into the character of the area and simply is too big.
Council members seemed to agree and told the development team to come back with something better.
Councilman Dwayne Romero, who is considered more pro-development than his colleagues on the council, said at the time that he was against the project based on the overwhelming criticism against the project by neighbors who said the complex would overshadow them.
In his letter, Clauson pointed out that the project is not “anywhere near any protected view plane in the city.”
The area, which is zoned commercial, has mostly one- and two-story buildings, and rests between commercial and residential areas. However, Clauson takes issue with the assertion that the project isn’t consistent with the character of the neighborhood. He said the district has nearly a dozen properties that are condominiumized and include lodging, affordable multifamily housing, free-market units, retail, restaurants, service and office uses and other businesses.
Clauson and his client, building owner Steve Marcus, are seeking approval to subdivide the property because the plan involves creating multifamily units, which requires that the building be separated by different ownership interests.
The land-use plan, for which the owners already have approval, calls for redeveloping the property into a 47,000-square-foot complex that would house the Wienerstube restaurant for at least 10 years, the bike shop, and four or five smaller affordable commercial spaces that would face the alley.
The 12 affordable housing units and six free-market condos would be on the upper levels along with additional commercial space.
The new proposal eliminates one level of parking below grade. The development team also is offering additional housing, the equivalent of 2.25 full-time employees, which equates to nearly $500,000.
The applicant chose to provide affordable housing on site for 27 full-time employees, which is more than what is required by city law. The additional cash-in-lieu money brings that number up to 29.25 full-time employees.
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Many members of the community wrote to laud the former Skico executive and city councilman for his friendship, dedication to family and community-minded spirit over more than two decades in Aspen.