Grand Aspen gets favorable review |

Grand Aspen gets favorable review

Many of the details concerning redevelopment of the Grand Aspen Hotel seemed to have the endorsement of the Aspen City Council this week, at least conceptually.

But the council will continue to hold hearings on the massive project, which involves both the redevelopment of the Grand Aspen and the building of luxury homes at the “Top of Mill” property, located in and around the big bowl of terrain above the Fifth Avenue and Mountain Queen condominium complexes at the top of South Mill Street.

At a public hearing Monday, council members and citizens questioned representatives of the developer, Savanah Limited Partnership, about everything from traffic patterns around the Grand Aspen site to whether parties on the hotel’s exterior patios will be too noisy for the neighbors. The height of the planned hotel also garnered attention.

The new hotel, as currently planned, would have 150 rooms and be up to 52 feet tall at one point. An underground parking lot with about 106 spaces is also proposed.

The Top of Mill project, according to the plans, will include 17 homes, comprised of a mix of single-family, duplex and triplex buildings. Two of the duplexes (four units) will be deed-restricted.

To date, the City Council’s conceptual review has been restricted to the Grand Aspen site, otherwise known as Lot 5 of the Aspen Mountain Planned Unit Development.

This is the final phase of a huge development scheme that began with the construction of the former Ritz-Carlton Hotel (now the St. Regis).

Savanah representative John Sarpa told the council Monday that the company has made several modifications to its plans based on comments from neighbors and council members in recent weeks.

Those changes included the relocation of the entrance to the underground garage, which was on Galena Street, to Dean Street. Sarpa said a traffic consultant’s study indicated that the 106 spaces should be more than adequate for the hotel’s needs, and that some spaces will be available for employees and even for rent to citizens not related to the hotel.

Also in response to neighborhood concern, Savanah plans to reconfigure parking along Mill Street, from parallel to angled, in order to make up for the loss of four spaces along Dean Street due to the design of the new entrance area.

Sarpa said the company would prefer one-way traffic on Dean Street to reduce congestion and pedestrian hazards, but comments from citizens and from the council indicated a public preference to keep it a two-way street.

Mayor Rachel Richards worried that the planned building would be too massive and would block views of the mountain from town, and views of the town from the new hotel’s uphill neighbors.

Sarpa and others noted the 52-foot height is misleading because the building’s tallest point is well uphill from the Dean Street frontage, and the building will be built into the side of the hill. So, at a point where the building itself is 41 feet tall, the actual distance from street to roof-peak will be only 24 feet, according to the developers.

Monday night’s public hearing was continued to a special meeting on Nov. 23, when the Top of Mill property will be discussed in detail.

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