Holiday House fire hits housing supply
November 9, 2007
ASPEN ” The fire that gutted the Holiday House Wednesday night caused millions of dollars in damage and put a significant dent in the housing supply for ski season workers.
Flames at the Hopkins Avenue apartment complex were first spotted at 5:30 p.m., and Aspen firefighters still were mopping up hot spots at 2:30 a.m. Thursday.
Aspen Fire Marshal Ed Van Walraven was at the Holiday House investigating the fire Thursday afternoon and said he would not comment on the cause for another couple of days. Walraven has not ruled out foul play.
David Corbin, Skico’s vice president of planning and development, said Thursday morning that the company didn’t have a cost estimate of its loss yet. However, the total budget for refurbishing the Holiday House was $3 million, he said, and the “hard costs” for the project were $2.1 million.
The building was valued at $1.3 million by the Pitkin County assessor’s office. The Skico bought the property for $800,000 in 1985.
During refurbishing, the Skico was recycling as much of the former lodge as possible. Many of the walls were open, stripped to the wood frame, or open on one side while plumbing and electrical wiring was replaced. The fire swept through the decades-old framing.
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“The classic irony of it was we were putting in a sprinkler system,” Corbin said. Sprinklers were being installed in every room as well as the common areas.
The Holiday House had 62 beds when it was last used as Skico affordable housing three seasons ago. Corbin said the configuration would remain roughly the same in the redevelopment.
“It’s a fairly large piece of our employee housing pie that is offline for the foreseeable future,” said Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle, adding that the company’s total inventory of employee housing is now only 250 beds. “It will clearly have a ripple effect throughout the community.”
The renovation of the Holiday House was controversial during the approval process when nearby homeowners objected to early plans. Hanle said the Skico went through numerous modifications and different plans, some at the request of neighbors.
The Skico originally submitted an application with the city to demolish the two buildings on the site. However, the building needed zoning variances; the plan eventually fizzled as it made the way through the Planning and Zoning Commission and, later, the City Council.
The original application was submitted in June 2005, and the Skico pulled the redevelopment in March 2006.
The current work being done on the building was through a repair permit that is far easier to obtain than a scrape and replace. Senior city planner Jennifer Phelan said all of the Skico’s permits were in order for the renovation.
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