Hotel plan wins conceptual nod | AspenTimes.com

Hotel plan wins conceptual nod

Janet Urquhart

A big, new hotel that will transform the Lift 1A neighborhood at the base of Aspen Mountain won conceptual approval Tuesday from the Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission.Developers knocked 5 feet 4 inches off the height of the tallest section of the proposed Lodge at Aspen Mountain in presenting their latest revised plan to the commission.The P&Z voted 4-1 to recommend approval of the plan, with Chairwoman Jasmine Tygre dissenting. She balked at the height of the proposed hotel.”To me, the visual impacts of this project are going to be enormous,” she said, noting the building site near Shadow Mountain is higher than most of Aspen. “Anywhere you are in this town, this is going to be the thing you see.”Neighbors were vehemently opposed to what was already a revised plan for the hotel when it began its second series of hearings before the P&Z in February. It has been whittled down several times since then, noted John Sarpa, representing Aspen Land Fund II LLC, the hotel’s developers.Some neighbors continue to object to the scale of the building despite the reductions, while others have accepted the latest proposal. The city’s planning staff has recommended approval of the project, noting all of Aspen’s largest hotels are located south of Durant Avenue, along the base of the mountain.A 65-foot cupola has been removed from the hotel’s design, but the structure remains 64 feet 9 inches at its highest – a portion of the hotel’s roof line that is set back about 100 feet from its main entrance off South Aspen Street. The building is four stories tall, plus a partial fifth story, in that section, according to James Lindt, city planner.Shadow Mountain Condominium owner Scott Stewart joined several neighbors in decrying the impact of the project on the neighborhood.”You’re putting the largest building in Aspen – and this is huge – in a residential area,” he said.”It truly transforms the whole block and the whole street,” said Brad McKee, whose father owns a Shadow Mountain unit. “For us, it changes the entire feel – the reason we came to Aspen.”However, representatives of the Lift One, Juan Street and Timber Ridge condos all told the P&Z Tuesday that the majority of those homeowners no longer oppose the project.Most P&Z members agreed the site – about 2.4 acres between South Aspen and South Garmisch streets – is appropriate for a hotel. Juan Street splits the property, and the Mine Dump Apartments will be razed to make way for the project.”If I think of my personal experience with hotels, they’re usually pretty big,” said P&Z member Brandon Marion.”We think this building now is as good as we can get if you want a hotel,” Sarpa said.”I can tell you very clearly, this building, where it’s located, is as small a hotel as you’re going to get,” he added. “We’ve squeezed, we’ve pushed, we’ve pulled it back.”The hotel is slated to contain 82 standard hotel rooms, 23 units to be sold in fractional shares, four free-market residences and 12 employee units. The developers are seeking a luxury hotel operator to run it.Developers have also offered to finance the replacement of Lift 1A with a speedier chairlift to serve the base of Aspen Mountain on the Shadow Mountain side.The developers are also committed to increased winter maintenance on steep South Aspen Street, which can be treacherously slick, and are willing to contribute to a snow-melting system in the street if the city will allow it, Sarpa said.The conceptual plan for the Lodge at Aspen Mountain will now go to the City Council. Then developers must return with a final plan for review by the P&Z and the council.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com

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