Gorsuch Haus revised, city remains skeptical
Developers of the proposed Gorsuch Haus at the Lift 1A base of Aspen Mountain have whittled down the scale and size of the hotel in advance of Monday’s public hearing before City Council, though a high-ranking city planner has cast skepticism on the latest revisions.
Among the alterations include reducing the project’s total size from 102,500 square feet to 84,500 square feet, while cutting the above-grade floor area from 68,500 square feet to 59,500. Guest-room sizes also would be slashed from 520 square feet to 420 square feet, while the 10,000 square feet of six residential units would be reduced to 8,000 square feet among four units.
Developer Norway Island LLC also has proposed widening the entrance to the ski-lift area and a larger turnaround circle. Those changes were made in response to concerns of Gorsuch Haus opponents who argue the lift area would essentially be privatized because it wouldn’t be readily accessible to the public. That’s because it would start at Gorsuch Haus and not Dean Street, which is located below the proposed lodge.
As part of an agreement with the Gorsuch developers, Aspen Skiing Co. would build a new lift to replace the 1972-built Lift 1A, which runs halfway up the mountain.
A new building has been added to the proposal. It would be located across the hotel’s turnaround circle and possibly serve as a structure for employee housing, a ski patrol room, public lockers, ticketing and skier services.
“We are very excited by these changes to Gorsuch Haus and look forward to talking with the City Council about them,” said developer Jeff Gorsuch in a prepared statement issued Thursday. “The building is redesigned to fit in with skiing and the alpine surroundings. Also, the top of South Aspen Street is much better oriented for the public arrival.”
Gorusch, however, might not be able to make his case at next week’s meeting. A memo that was made public Thursday from the city Deputy Planning Director Jennifer Phelan to the City Council suggests that the matter be postponed to a later date.
“Several aspects of the project appear to require restudy or more detailed information that will take time to assemble,” Phelan’s memo reads. “Therefore, staff recommends the application be tabled and re-noticed for a future date.”
If council takes Phelan’s advice, it would be the second postponement of the hearing, which began Feb. 13. Then, residents filled City Council Chambers making their pitches for and against the project. Some hailed the 67-guest-room hotel complex as the rebirth of the Lift 1A side of Aspen Mountain, where the recently held World Cup Finals were staged. Others said its size was good enough reason for City Council to deny the project, along with concerns about the new lift’s public accessibility.
Phelan’s memo noted that “this new site plan and massing proposal is an improvement,” but “not enough detail has been provided to analyze the extent of the changes. Will the new building impact the ability to move people up the mountain if the lift cannot be lowered towards Dean (Street)?”
The city also plans to hire a third-party consultant to analyze the potential of getting people from Dean Street to the new lift, “whether that is the form of a lower lift terminal or some type of people mover from Dean (Street) to the proposed ski lift,” the memo says.
The consultant is expected to begin work in April, according to the memo.
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Bluebird skies, spring-like temperatures and a few inches of snow from Monday night’s storm helped Snowmass skiers and snowboarders cruise into the season Wednesday for opening day.