Housing plan gets early nod
Longtime local resident Hans Gramiger would like to build a mixture of affordable housing and free-market homes on his property at the base of Shadow Mountain.At a “sketch plan” hearing before the City Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday, Gramiger’s representatives outlined a plan to build 33 affordable housing units and nine free-market homes on 2.5 acres.And in general, the plan seemed to be acceptable to most of those present at the meeting. Gramiger has also pledged to take down a “makeshift cable system” and a building atop Shadow Mountain – the remains of his failed plans to build a restaurant there.The affordable housing plan, according to his sketch plan documents, would include studios, one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units, all grouped in multifamily arrangements in five buildings.The free-market units would include four three-bedroom townhomes in two buildings located in the center of the property, and five four-bedroom houses arrayed against the base of Shadow Mountain, on Aspen’s southwest side.The proposal, presented by Robert M. Cumming Jr. of Ada, Mich., also calls for a neighborhood park in the middle of the property, a corner park at the intersection of West Hopkins Avenue and South Seventh Street, covered parking and connections to city pedestrian trails.According to city Planning Director Julie Ann Woods, she and Cumming worked together on the sketch plan for some time to get it ready for last night’s hearing.Woods said the hearing was the first under the city’s new “sketch plan” ordinance. The new rule allows developers of complicated projects, or projects expected to generate controversy or require considerable public input, to start with a sketch plan to see how the general idea is received. Formal application can then follow, or the plans can be dropped, depending on public reception.At the hearing, Cumming noted that the property is currently in Pitkin County, although part of the development application will include a request to annex into the city.It was also pointed out that the Gramiger property was identified in the Aspen Area Community Plan as ideal for affordable housing, since it is close to the Main Street bus line and in a relatively densely populated neighborhood.According to Richard Shaw of Design Workshop, the free-market houses will be about 4,000 to 4,500 square feet in size, and the overall project will represent around 71,000 square feet of livable area.Most of the members of the City Council and the P&Z at the meeting seemed amenable to the general design of the project, suggesting minor changes in the parking configurations, the trail connections and other details.From the public, the only significant objections dealt with the overall square footage, which some felt was too much for the size of the property and too dense for the neighborhood.Gramiger and his development team will continue to refine the details of the plan, and were asked to hold meetings with neighbors to iron out as many difficulties as possible before submitting a formal development application.
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