Housing project at Aspen’s old Boomerang Lodge site faces opposition | AspenTimes.com

Housing project at Aspen’s old Boomerang Lodge site faces opposition

Andre SalvailThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – A proposal to create a new 46-unit affordable-housing structure at the former site of the Boomerang Lodge is expected to take center stage when the Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission meets from 4:30-7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.Steve Stunda, managing partner of a Virginia-based group that purchased the lodge five years ago, will present plans for a scaled-down version of a project that was discussed at a P&Z meeting on Nov. 2. In 2006, the new owners sought and received city approval for an upscale redevelopment of the longtime lodge. However, financing for the project went south during the subsequent economic downturn, and now the developers are seeking a change-in-use amendment that would allow them to proceed with the affordable-housing units.Stunda acknowledged on Monday that opposition to the project has picked up steam in recent months, primarily from neighbors along West Hopkins Avenue between Fourth and Fifth streets and surrounding areas. Many have written letters and sent e-mails to the city’s Community Development Department, generally voicing concern that the development would be a bad fit for the low-density neighborhood.”I thought that this would be an easy thing,” Stunda said. “Apparently I’ve got a tiger by the tail here.”He said he has conformed to objections voiced by neighbors and P&Z commissioners since the last meeting by removing the proposed fourth floor of the facility and ensuring a parking space for each unit: 33 underground and 13 on the street. There would be an additional spot in a nearby alley for a designated handicapped-parking space.His plans have received the blessing of the city’s Community Development Department. A memorandum to P&Z commissioners from Jennifer Phelan, deputy director of the department, states that staff supports the rezoning of the property from lodging to RMF, or residential multi-family.”The existing neighborhood contains many examples of multi-family development and the proposed use of the property as multi-family is compatible with established uses in the neighborhood that include lodging, single-family, duplex and multi-family,” Phelan’s memo states.The memo goes on to say that the applicant has lowered the height of the proposed building by removing its fourth floor; reduced the density by eight units; met the parking requirement of one space per unit; and conformed to Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority guidelines. Also, the proposal would maintain the historic part of the lodge, most of which was demolished in summer 2007.Stunda’s group sought to transform the project when the city passed an affordable-housing tax credit program earlier this year. The program makes an affordable-housing project more viable than proceeding with a small, upscale lodge facility during questionable economic times.Steve Goldenberg, one of the more vocal opponents of the project, said Stunda’s current plan is simply the wrong idea for the quiet neighborhood. Existing multi-family and affordable-housing structures in the immediate area of the old Boomerang Lodge have a low impact on the neighborhood as well as Midland Trail and Hopkins Avenue pedestrian/bikeway users, he said.His Dec. 7 letter to P&Z commissioners states that since the property was approved for rebuilding as a Historic Lodge Preservation planned unit development then it should be rebuilt as a lodge.”If we allow a non-lodge use, then we are giving up on Aspen as a premiere ski resort,” Goldenberg wrote. “The only sustainable economy for Aspen is tourism, and without low- to medium-cost lodges we won’t need any more affordable employee housing.”Goldenberg also says the project’s parking arrangement of 33 underground spaces and a few more on the street is unsuitable.”Forty-six units means we will really have 75 to 110 occupants and 50 to 80 cars. That will flood the nearby streets with traffic and parked cars unless adequate, realistic off-street parking is required,” his letter states.But Stunda said Monday that he doesn’t understand why some of the neighbors view the project as intrusive, especially since they went along with the city’s approval of plans for a redeveloped lodge back in 2006.”I don’t understand the objection,” he said. “The density of the lodge was greater than what this building is.”asalvail@aspentimes.com

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