For downtown Aspen hotel it’s out with the old, in with the new
Down comes the Molly Gibson to make way for new lodge, free-market homes
While the site of the Molly Gibson lodge on Main Street being reduced to rubble in the past month may have surprised some locals, it’s a plan that has been in the works for several years.
Aspen City Council approved the redevelopment of the 1960s-era lodge in 2015 and extended vesting rights to the owners, Michael and Aaron Brown, in 2018 for another two years.
A second request for a two-year extension was denied by council last year, with some elected officials saying there was not a compelling reason to delay redevelopment.
“The project is moving along as expected,” said Ben Anderson, principal long range planner in the city’s community development department.
He added that the Browns participated in the city’s small lodge program, which gave them discounts on permitting fees in exchange for agreeing to keep the property a lodge for 20 years.
The old 53-room lodge will be rebuilt into 68 rooms averaging around 300 square feet each, along with two single-family residences that are both 4,500 square feet and one affordable housing unit.
The new building was approved to be 32 feet tall, just as its former sister property across the street, the Hotel Aspen, has.
That lodge was owned by the Browns under their company, HayMax Capital, until they sold to a Boston-based development firm in October for $37.5 million.
HayMax Capital secured entitlements from council for the land that allow for the development of a new boutique luxury hotel with 54 rooms and three, 5,000-square-foot luxury homes.
The current Hotel Aspen has 45 rooms, and its new owners are looking at the spring for construction on the boutique hotel.
HayMax Capital bought the Hotel Aspen and the Molly Gibson in the early and mid 2000s.
HayMax also owns two lodges in Ketchum, Idaho, and is the developer of the unbuilt Lift One Lodge at the base of Aspen Mountain.
Michael Brown didn’t return a phone call seeking comment.