First steps taken for a new Sky Hotel in Aspen |

First steps taken for a new Sky Hotel in Aspen

Michael McLaughlin
The Aspen Times

Plans are in the works to demolish and replace the Sky Hotel at the base of Aspen Mountain with a more modern lodge with more guest rooms.

The application for redevelopment, which was received by the city of Aspen on Monday and certified as complete on Wednesday, calls for a completely demolishing the existing hotel and replacing it with a new one.

Northridge Capital has owned the current building since 2001, and the operator, Kimpton, has operated the hotel since 2002.

“They’re very excited about keeping the great, young vibe that’s there today and making sure it goes on into the future,” said John Sarpa, the owners’ representative for the project.

Public outreach has begun already. Sarpa said the redevelopment team approached the businesses around the hotel, referred to as neighbors, in April and shared information with them about the planned new hotel. They also sent the neighbors a detailed information package in May with drawings and tentative building plans.

“We’re just now starting our substantive exchange of comments with the neighbors,” Sarpa said.

If the permitting and application processes go as planned, Sarpa estimated construction could begin roughly a year or so after approvals are obtained.

“That’s a hard guess, as it depends on how long the process actually takes,” Sarpa said. “This is a rough estimate, but I think the earliest would be spring of 2016. We’re thinking the actual building project will take around 20 months to complete.”

Sarpa said the design of the new hotel, which he referred to as a modern chalet, was put together to look like it’s a part of Aspen and belongs in Aspen with a nod toward the future.

They also want to make sure it doesn’t take away from the surrounding views of Aspen Mountain.

Sarpa said his team submitted its application for the project on Monday.

“The city reviewed the application and have sent us the certification that it’s complete,” he said. “That starts the process. There’ll be an extensive staff review by the city. The first set of hearings will begin at the Planning and Zoning Commission, probably in August.”

According to Jessica Garrow, the city of Aspen long-range planner, the tentative date for the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting that will examine and discuss the application is Aug. 19. Garrow said larger project reviews, like the redevelopment of the Sky Hotel, usually take several meetings to complete.

If the Planning and Zoning Commission approves the application, it then moves to the Aspen City Council for approval or denial.

“The city of Aspen hasn’t had a chance to fully review the application yet,” Garrow said. “We do know the tentative plan is for the new hotel to add 12 more lodging units (to the existing 90), and that adds to our overall bed base in Aspen. From that perspective, we’re looking forward to reviewing the application.”

Sarpa said in 30 years of real estate in Aspen, this project is one of the most exciting he’s worked on because it involves a hotel that the younger generation is drawn to.

“The hotel is a fun, vibrant place,” Sarpa said. “But the building is obsolete and crumbling, so here we have an opportunity to develop a 31/2 star hotel and keep it more affordable than not. We want to keep it interesting and appealing, in terms of the experience, to the younger generations.”

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