Hunt: Aspen’s Base1 not possible without Base2

Karl Herchenroeder
The Aspen Times
Developer Mark Hunt's Base2 concept, which includes a variance request on floor area, was not subject to the Home Rule Charter amendment spurred by Referendum 1.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

Developer Mark Hunt has submitted alternate plans for his Base2 lodge concept on Main Street, plans that include a variance request on floor area that would not be not subject to Referendum 1.

In the application, Hunt’s team states that Base1, a Cooper Avenue lodge concept that won unanimous Aspen City Council approval in February, will not be possible without the operation of Base2. Hunt contends that based on conversations with several potential hotel operators, there is “a minimum threshold of 80 rooms necessary to get hotel operators interested.”

“The applicant wants to deliver affordable lodging to Aspen, but has found that, unfortunately, the one lodge cannot be developed or efficiently operated without the other,” Hunt’s application states. “There is not a reputable operator that will take on a 39-room hotel or a 42-room hotel.”

The application, submitted in late April, presents two options for the 39-room Base2: the original gable-roof design, which he shied away from in January, and a flat-roof design, which is four feet shorter but similar in floor area.

As originally proposed, Base2 would have replaced the Main Street Conoco gas station with a 36-foot-tall, 18,700-square-foot lodge, where zoning allows for 32 feet in height and about 7,500 square feet in floor area. That gable-roof option has since been reduced to about 15,800 square feet. The new flat-roof design is measured at about 32 feet tall and 15,900 square feet in floor area.

Because Hunt’s original plans were submitted well before Tuesday’s election, they will not be subject to Referendum 1, a growth-control measure that registered Aspen’s electorate as the final review authority for land-use variances on height, mass, parking, affordable housing and viewplanes.

With Base1 approval, Hunt plans to replace the Cooper Avenue structure home to Domino’s Pizza and other businesses with a 42-room lodge. Both Base1 and Base2, Hunt has said, will feature rooms sized around 200 square feet and rates around $200 a night.

Though Hunt’s Base1 application was approved without variances on height or mass, he reached an unorthodox agreement for 15 off-site parking spaces at the St. Regis Hotel. Senior planner Sara Adams said Wednesday that Hunt is seeking a similar parking arrangement for Base2. The application cites previous discussions with city officials concerning 20 to 50 parking spaces, depending on the season, at the Rio Grande Garage.

The Base2 concept, which would be located at 232 E. Main St., does not include a free-market residential component. Hunt has requested to satisfy mitigation for about 1.6 full-time employees through affordable-housing certificates.