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Guilty as charged

Dear Editor:

In answer to any concerns that might be out there in the community, I would like to plead “guilty as charged” on not wanting the demolition of the Bidwell Building for selfish reasons.

I have said throughout these long hearings that “my main cause is my own.” I didn’t look for this battle. It found me!

I work and live exactly across the only alleyway that gives access to the Bidwell Building, which houses the popular Western store Kemo Sabe. I own and run (for 24 years now) a small hotel on the second floor of the Aspen Block Building, and seven of my windows overlook the alley directly onto Kemo Sabe … and what I can still see of the mountain beyond.

My livelihood comes directly from my small hotel. I do not own the building, I only own the business. Several years of demolition and construction, with all the disruption it brings, will most likely put me out of business.

I have pleaded with City Council to stop this project. They have postponed a decision on it now for several hearings while they study it more. I sincerely thank them for that.

Again, other than my selfish reasons, I just don’t think we need any more large downtown empty buildings. We are sitting on at least six that I know of. We need to fill the retail and office spaces, and the numerous apartments and penthouse condos that we already have, before we build more. I live right downtown, and downtown needs to wait, and catch up in order to get its vitality back.

I am so desperately worried about the survival of my business that I have reached out personally, by e-mail, by phone and by walking the neighborhood. I have asked all of my friends and acquaintances to please send e-mails to the mayor and City Council against the project. If they could type … I would have asked for my friends’ cats and dogs to send e-mails too. At this point I have thrown pride out the window.

The worst years of running the hotel were after 9/11, and the two terrible years during the remodel of the Paragon Building. I know what is in store for me next door with a complete demolition and long construction period.

No one can sleep with dust and debris belching through the 115-year-old brick walls and windows. The asbestos released in the air will be reason enough not to book a room with me. I haven’t even gotten to the noise pollution yet. Jackhammers are really fun at 8 in the morning. The list goes on and on … but I won’t bore you with that.

In closing, I would like to again confess to being selfish and worried about preserving my business.

I am a small, downtown, mom-and-pop hotel. I own and operate it myself … and have for 24 years now. Most of my customers come back year after year, thank God, but in this economic climate, even with that loyalty it is difficult for anyone to stay in business.

I respect any differences of opinion on this. My commitment against the project is certainly stronger because of my location to the project.

If you can, please come to City Council at 5 p.m. today to let them know how you feel. Our local government is only as good as we are … as involved citizens.

Terry Butler

The Residence Hotel, Aspen


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