HPC won’t delist 2 properties
A pair of property owners hoping to remove their 19th-century buildings from the purview of the Historic Preservation Commission struck out Wednesday.
Norma Dolle, owner of the Victorian Snow Queen Lodge, and Scott Hicks, owner of a pair of connected miner’s cottages surrounded by affordable housing complexes, both appealed the inclusion of their properties on Aspen’s historic inventory.
The HPC rejected both appeals, noting the historical significance that remains despite alterations to both buildings.
Holland House lodge owners Jack and Yasmine de Pagter are also among 16 property owners who have asked to have their properties delisted. A hearing on their appeal, originally planned last night, was rescheduled for next month.
Dolle, who has owned the East Cooper Street lodge for nearly 30 years, noted the addition that was added to the Snow Queen in the 1980s in a major renovation and complained that the historical listing offers little benefit for a property owner.
She complained of escalating property taxes, driven up by property values on other nearby lots where redevelopment into multimillion-dollar condos has occurred. Such opportunity is not available to those stuck with a historic structure, Dolle noted.
“If we should try to sell it, it would have a negative impact on the value,” she said. “This doesn’t help us financially at all.”
HPC members sympathized with her plight but declined to take the lodge off the list. The original structure, a late Victorian, dates back to 1885 or 1886, according to city records. The lodge’s curved front porch especially caught the HPC’s eye.
“Is there anything like that anywhere else in Aspen?” asked member Gilbert Sanchez. “I think this is an architectural gem. I think there’s a lot of unique qualities to this.”
Member Susan Doddington commended Dolle for maintaining the lodge for nearly three decades and called the tax situation “sad.”
“This one is charming and in wonderful shape and you’ve kept it this way for so long,” she said. “That porch and rounded window is unique in this town. I haven’t seen another one like it.”
The linked pair of miner’s cottages at 2 Williams Way, owned by Hicks and Maureen Kinney, are also unusual – especially for the neighborhood, the HPC agreed.
The home consists of two structures dating back to the 1880s. One is original to the site – City Councilman Jim Markalunas’ mother and her siblings were born there. It is connected with newer construction to a second cottage that was moved to the lot. A newer addition was constructed to the rear.
Hicks argued that the modifications to the home have compromised its historic significance and objected to the listing as an attempt to preserve a token of a neighborhood that no longer exists. The house sits at the corner of Williams Way and Spruce Street near the base of Red Mountain.
“That side of town was changed a long time ago – Hunter Creek, Williams Woods, Centennial and my house,” he said.
The home, divided into two residences, is deed-restricted as affordable housing. It was once owned by Pitkin County. Hicks said he rents out one side of the home.
He also complained about the subjective process of HPC reviews for any changes he might want to make to the home. “I simply see it as impinging on the rights of the homeowner,” he said.
HPC members assured Hicks they are working to improve the process, but in the meantime, said they could not see delisting one of the last vestiges of old Aspen from the neighborhood.
“While it is in a sea of affordable housing, I think it is definitely a jewel of the neighborhood,” said member Lisa Markalunas, who did not recuse herself from the discussion, but did disclose her family’s ties to the home.
The changes to the area are no reason to delist the property, Sanchez agreed.
“In fact, it’s more of a reason to keep it. It is an island, it is an oasis in all the stuff that is around it,” he said.
Both property owners can appeal the HPC ruling to the City Council, claiming abuse of discretion or denial of due process by the commission.
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