Hotel developers secure Smuggler housing site
A swath of open land at the base of Smuggler Mountain caught the eye of both government officials and private developers who were looking for a spot to build worker housing. The private developers prevailed.Developers of the proposed Lodge at Aspen Mountain have placed about 1.6 acres across Park Circle from Molly Gibson Park under contract after striking a deal to buy the property from the Smuggler Racquet Club. The club’s outdoor tennis courts are adjacent to the grassy bench of land with views of Aspen Mountain.It’s an obvious spot to locate some employee housing, and the city looked into acquiring it, according to Ed Sadler, assistant city manager. “Yeah, we looked at it. They [the club] got a better deal,” he said. “They were asking for more than we wanted to pay.”The city went so far as to have the property appraised, Sadler said. Project spokesman John Sarpa declined to reveal how much the hotel developers have offered for the land, located on the side of town where much of the resort’s worker housing is concentrated. Centennial, a large housing project, is nearby.The club has plans to redevelop its courts in conjunction with the construction of housing on the open land, according to Sarpa, a partner in Centurion Partners – principal owner of the hotel project.The hotel, proposed for a site off South Aspen Street near the base of Lift 1A, will have little on-site worker housing. Twelve units as part of the hotel are proposed; all but one are studio apartments. The hotel is expected to generate some 150 to 200 employees and the developers must arrange to house 60 percent of them under the city’s requirements. They anticipate providing some housing at the Airport Business Center and believe they can accommodate 65 to 70 people in a housing development at the Park Circle property, Sarpa said.Plans for the housing are in the initial stage.The Park Circle property is in unincorporated Pitkin County, according to Sadler. Sarpa predicted the developers will look to annex it to the city.Developers would prefer to place actual employees of the new hotel in the housing, he said. Typically, housing built as mitigation for private development is made available to the work force at large, according to James Lindt, senior planner for the city.”Certainly, that could be something they negotiate with the [City] Council,” he said.Part of the housing the hotel must provide is to replace what will be lost when the Mine Dump Apartments are torn down to make way for project. The Mine Dumps have long functioned as apartments for working locals.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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A management plan for the Marolt Open Space guides the city to largely leave it alone, although a feasibility study will be done for a potential bike park on the south side of the property.