How do you find yourself a parking space in Aspen? Easy, you buy it |

How do you find yourself a parking space in Aspen? Easy, you buy it

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Forget luxury condos, Aspen?s next high-end real estate development may be a place to park the Range Rover.

Park Place, a valet-operated, six-story garage billed as ?luxury parking in downtown Aspen,? has been proposed on an East Hyman Avenue parcel at the edge of the resort?s commercial core.

Conceptual plans for the project will be submitted to the city shortly, and a joint meeting of the Aspen City Council and Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled Oct. 21 to review the proposal.

?Everybody I?ve talked to has said it?s a great idea,? said real estate broker Peter Fornell, who represents an investor who has an option to purchase the 12,000-square-foot property at 300 S. Spring St.

The property currently consists of an office building on the corner of Spring and Hyman Avenue and an A-frame house that is used as offices for Aspen Ski Tours. The plan is to demolish the A-frame and construct the garage on 6,000 square feet between the office building and the Benedict Commons housing complex. A small expansion of the office building is also possible, Fornell said.

The six-story garage would include three levels below ground, with an elevator to move vehicles between floors. The top of the building would be 25 feet above the ground, according to the plans. Roughly 108 spaces are envisioned, with 18 per level. Four studio apartments and two offices are also proposed, fronting the building, which would face East Hyman.

Like many Aspen condos, the parking spaces would be sold to owners who could make them available for rental when they?re not in town.

?If a space owner is in town for a certain period of time, they notify Park Place and they use their space. When a space owner is away, they notify Park Place and that space goes into the rental pool,? according to the development proposal.

The price to purchase a space has not yet been determined, according to Fornell. ?It won?t be cheap, believe me,? he said.

The call for additional parking in town has surfaced repeatedly among various committees assigned to come up with proposals to revitalize downtown Aspen.

The only public parking structure in town, the city?s Rio Grande garage, accommodates about 340 cars but often fills up during the day in peak seasons.

Park Place could take vehicles off the street that might otherwise take up an on-street parking space for much of the day, according to the development proposal. While the price of the city?s on-street, metered parking escalates from $1 for the first hour to $3 for the fourth hour, the rental prices in the garage will take the opposite approach.

?Our plan is to charge higher rates for the first hour and work down for subsequent hours. This encourages persons to park on the street for a short stay and stay in the garage for longer stays, complementing the current parking scheme downtown,? the proposal notes.

With many of Aspen?s luxury homes located beyond walking distance from the base of Aspen Mountain and the downtown shops and restaurants, Fornell suspects Park Place will attract the interest of second-home owners and provide parking for tourists when Park Place owners are not in town.

?Let?s say you own a house in Owl Creek. You?ve got to drive into town and drive around in circles to find a place to park,? he said.

At Park Place, an owner would drop off his vehicle at the entrance and a valet would park it in the garage, Fornell said.

The garage is a far more efficient use of space than the downtown parking lots that currently rent spaces for hundreds of dollars a month, Fornell reasoned. When the lessee isn?t using those spaces, they sit empty.

The success of Park Place may spur other parking lot owners to look at maximizing the use of their properties, he said.

?Our market consists of savvy individuals who understand that it is a far better investment to own a space downtown and have it make income for them than it is to simply spend money on rent for an uncovered space and not have it get used in their absence,? the development proposal states.

The owners of Park Place spaces could see a 7 to 8 percent annual return on their investment through the rental of their spaces, Fornell said.

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is]

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