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Fire station moves forward

M. John FayheeSpecial to The Aspen Times
An artist's drawing depicts the proposed new fire station on Main Street. (Courtesy Aspen Fire Protection District)
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The Aspen fire district is moving forward with its plans to ask voters for $14 million to renovate its fire station and build a new satellite facility.And it got the go-ahead Monday night from City Council, which unanimously approved recommendations for the plan and extended the fire station’s lease at its downtown location on East Hopkins Avenue by 40 years. A development group’s proposal to buy the downtown fire station to build an arts center apparently had little effect on the council’s decision.

“The council has not talked about it,” said James Lindt, a senior planner with the city. “We haven’t seen a proposal. We don’t know what it is about. It’s funny timing. It would have been nice if we had an alternative proposal six months ago when we were first talking about the fire station redevelopment.”On Monday, the Isis Group unveiled a proposal in which it would expand the Isis Theater onto the fire station site. Then it would construct a three-story downtown arts center with luxury condos on the third floor.The group would then pay to build a new fire station on the Zupancis property, adjacent the county building on Main Street.

The new station would also include 20 to 40 beds of new employee housing, new office space for the city and county, and an underground parking structure with about 100 spaces.Aspen Fire Chief Darryl Grob has rejected the Isis Group’s overtures, which he has been dealing with for more than a month through a series of e-mails that were not released until Monday.Grob cited design concerns, as well as the timing of the Isis Group’s proposal, in rejecting the arts center idea.

However, Lindt said Tuesday that he could not speculate what could happen to the bond election process if the Isis Group’s proposal gained traction with the City Council before May 2, the date of the bond election.If voters approve the plan, the funds would be used to renovate the downtown fire station, which has been in use since 1961, and to build a new satellite station at the Aspen Airport Business Center.The conceptual plans for those projects were put together by Studio B Architects.Scott Lindenau of Studio B, which also designed Aspen Middle School, said the firm would likely tweak the plans by the time construction actually begins (if the bond election passes), but for the most part, they are ready for public scrutiny.


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