Hotel Jerome project gets OK from council
Owners of the Hotel Jerome won Aspen City Council’s approval Monday to partially demolish the next-door Aspen Times building and remodel it with it with five lodge units comprising nine bedrooms.
The council blessed the proposal by a 4-0 vote. Councilman Bert Myrin did not participate because he lives within 300 feet of the proposal.
The approval comes as Aspen’s hospitality and tourism industry has said the town’s bed base is declining and any new rooms will help.
“I think it’s important of us to continue to work in making sure we have appropriate lodging in town,” Councilman Adam Frisch said.
The council universally supported the project not only because it adds more rooms to the town’s inventory but also because it appears to respect the history of both buildings that date back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The project also met approval from the Historic Preservation Commission on April 27.
Only portions of the 5,500-square-foot Times building, those not deemed historic, will be demolished, including one-fourth of the building that is located in the rear. The new lodge structure that is part of the Times development will mean vacating 56 feet of the alley, but leaving the alley behind the Carl’s Pharmacy building intact.
The building’s storefront and facade won’t be removed.
The redeveloped Times building’s top height will be 33 feet and 6 inches, below the 38-feet threshold in the commercial core district.
The project also calls for redeveloping the courtyard between the Times and Jerome structures.
The approved version doesn’t include a fourth floor on the side of the hotel facing Bleeker Street. The owners pulled that component last year.
The five units with nine keys will enable the Jerome to attract more guest families, Jerome officials told the council. The nine rooms within the five units can be configured in different ways to meet the needs of large visiting parties. The maximum unit size will be 1,864 square feet.
Representatives from Aspen Skiing Co., which runs lodges that compete with the lodge, also spoke favorably of the redevelopment.
Merging the Times and Jerome lots is the result of two key property transactions over the past few years.
Investors from 310 East Main Street Ventures, in partnership with the Hotel Jerome, bought the Times building for $3.2 million in August 2012 from the newspaper’s parent company, Colorado Mountain News Media Co., which is a division of Nevada-based Swift Communications.
The Hotel Jerome and Times buildings changed ownership in February 2015 when Houston businessman Dan Friedkin and Iconic Properties-Jerome LLC acquired them together for $72.5 million.
Friedkin attended Monday’s meeting with his wife, telling the council he has visited Aspen for about 45 years, and his family has owned a home here since the 1970s.
“We love the Jerome as it is,” he said. “We don’t want it to become something different. We truly want to be great stewards of this hotel.”
Mayor Steve Skadron asked if the rooms could be converted to fractionals or condominiums, but architect Sarah Broughton said there are no plans for that.
“There is no residential component to this project, including no timeshares, fractionals or condominiums,” she said.
The Hotel Jerome is 47,735 square feet and has 93 lodge units and 93 rooms. The upgrade increases its guest capacity to 98 lodge units and 102 rooms.
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