Gorsuch Haus proposal for Aspen Mountain still breathing
December 13, 2016
There were no surprises when Aspen City Council allowed the Gorsuch Haus proposal to move forward Monday, but scrutiny of the project will intensify at a public hearing scheduled for February.
By a 4-0 vote, members of City Council approved the proposed hotel at the base of Aspen Mountain on first reading. Councilman Art Daily recused himself from voting because he works for a law firm that represents developers of the project.
Council members agreed to keep the Gorsuch Haus project going chiefly because of its sheer magnitude and potential impact on the iconic yet dated Lift 1A area of Aspen Mountain. They also said the project deserves a pubic hearing because of the time and effort put into it.
"I think your project has a lot of pros and cons," Mayor Steve Skadron said, adding that "your project is entitled to a fair hearing."
Jeff Gorsuch, one of the key principals with project developer Norway Island LLC, acknowledged to council members the challenges that lie ahead.
"This is a very complex project in a very complex area, and it's super, super important to get this right," he said.
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Citing the project's size, scale and the relocation of Lift 1A, the Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission voted 6-0 on Sept. 20 recommending that the City Council deny the project. The decision was made after four public hearings.
The city's Community Development Department also is opposed to the project in its existing form, as Deputy Planning Director Jennifer Phelan noted in a memo to City Council that "without changes to the project, staff will be recommending denial at second reading."
The second reading, which will be a public hearing, is scheduled for Feb. 13.
Norway is seeking to redevelop four parcels of land that combine for more than 6 acres at the end of South Aspen Street, the location of Lift 1A.
The parcels would be reconfigured into two lots, with Lot 1 having the hotel area, underground parking garage, walkways, stairways and an outdoor terrace.
Councilman Adam Frisch said he wondered if it's a "pipe dream" that the proposed lift could be moved to Dean Street — where many community members want it to be — or at its current proposed site up the hill.
The entire proposal in its current iteration would have 70,134 square feet of floor area and 127,525 of gross area.
Other features include:
67-room lodge with 81 keys.
Seven two-bedroom condo units averaging 1,450 to 1,500 square feet.
Six free-market units ranging from 1,500 to 2,000 square feet in size.
One on-site affordable-housing unit.
6,810 square feet of commercial space that would include a restaurant, retail and Aspen Skiing Co. operations.
A sub-grade garage with 61 parking spaces.
Affordable-housing mitigation, based on the calculation of 51.17 full-time employees, would include the one on-site unit for three employees, with the balance to be offset by off-site units or affordable-housing credits.
Skadron noted he had reservations about project's "creation of nonconformity" on the mountain base.
"Undoubtedly we'll be discussing the overall size and height of the building," he said.
Editor’s note: The original version of this story said that the Gorsuch Haus, as proposed, would be the highest structure on Aspen Mountain. That detail has been removed from this article because it was incorrect.