Gorsuch Haus developers keep project in front of public | AspenTimes.com

Gorsuch Haus developers keep project in front of public

The St. Mortiz Lodge is home to signs speaking out against the Gorsuch Haus' proposed lift location on Aspen Mountain.

While the City Council runoff is set Tuesday, June 6, another campaign is being waged about the future of the Lift 1A side of Aspen Mountain.

The Gorsuch Haus proposal, as it stands, won’t go before Aspen’s electorate, with its fate likely up to the City Council. Still, Gorsuch Haus organizers are seeking an opinion from Aspen’s court of public opinion through a mass mailing they sent out late last month. More than 2,700 fliers were mailed to registered voters who live in Aspen to gauge their level of support for the project.

“We realize that not everyone watches the City Council meetings (on GrassRoots Community Television) and don’t read the papers, and we want to get out in front of it and let people have the opportunity to show us support, or not show support,” said project spokesman Allyn Harvey.

The flier asks residents to respond with the options that they are satisfied with the current design, are undecided, or cannot support the Gorsuch Haus under any conditions.

A few signs can be spotted around town against the hotel declaring “Keep Lift 1A Public,” in reference to the location of a new lift at the mountain base.

The lift location is a deal-breaker for some residents, but others, such as Annette Keller, argue there’s no need for more development on that side of the mountain where Lift One Lodge also has approvals in place to build a hotel below the site of the proposed Gorsuch Haus.

“Eventually we will wreck this place with too much building,” said Keller, who regularly skis the Lift 1 side of the mountain. “It’s not a wholesome community with all of the development here. We have have to put some sort of brakes on it.”

The competing sentiment is that the Lift 1 side of Aspen Mountain won’t ever realize its potential if nothing is done to revive the historic yet staid area.

As contemplated, the lift would replace the 1972-built Lift 1, which runs halfway up the mountain. Even though it would follow a nearly same route as the exiting lift, opponents have said the lift should go further down the mountain because it would be essentially “privatized” because of limited access due to the new development. Gorsuch principles have said shuttle service on Aspen Street would ferry users to and from the lift, which Aspen Skiing Co. has agreed to build if the hotel goes up on the property that Skico also owns. That idea, however, also has not gone over well with critics.

“We’re bringing Lift 1A as close to town as our lot will allow and strongly believe this is the best spot for skier return,” the recent flier says. “That said, Gorsuch Haus is working with the City of Aspen’s search for a lower terminus — and the hotel is already sited to make that possible.”

As part of an agreement with the Gorsuch developers, Aspen Skiing Co. would build the new lift to replace the 1972-built Lift 1A, which runs halfway up the mountain.

The proposal last went before City Council in March. Council members, saying they needed more time to review the project and wanted to see results of a lift study conducted by SE Group, tabled the matter until a later date. A future hearing with the City Council is not yet scheduled because the study, with a cost of roughly $15,000, is not done and its scope might need to be expanded, said Jennifer Phelan, the city’s deputy planning director, on Monday.

Developer Norway Island LLC, led by Jeff Gorsuch and Bryan Peterson, has modified the project by trimming its scale and overall size, the latest iteration calling for 67 rooms with an overall square footage of 84,500 feet and the total above-grade floor area at 59,665 square feet. Other amenities would include a skier-services building, a ski-in, ski-out restaurant, offices for Aspen Mountain Ski Patrol, and a meeting room and storage space for Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, among other features.

The City Council began its review of the Gorsuch proposal in December.


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