Hunt building on Cooper clears first hurdle
The Aspen Historic Preservation Commission granted conceptual approval during its meeting Wednesday to demolish the building next to Casa Tua.
Developer Mark Hunt has the 9,026-square-foot lot, located at 447 E. Cooper Ave., under contract to buy from Basalt-based Meyer Business Building LLC.
The building is currently occupied by three retail tenants on the ground floor — a glass gallery, a jewelry store and a fur store — and three or four free-market residential units on the upper floor.
The structure on the site is not historically designated, but the property is in the Commercial Core Historic District, according to a memo to the commission from Aspen Senior Planner Sara Adams.
The property is not directly adjacent to any historic buildings and is generally surrounded by non-historic structures except for the Red Onion and Independence Square buildings, the memo said.
Hunt said his intent is to fill the space with retailers on the ground floor. His land-use application with the city calls for 22,000 square feet of commercial space on two floors.
Mark Goodman, who owns the Mark Richards fur store, expressed his opposition at the meeting.
“The current building is a well-functioning, multiuse building,” Goodman said, adding that the glass gallery has been around for 25 to 30 years and his fur store for 12.
Due to increasing rent, Goodman predicts the building’s future retailers will likely be corporate franchises, as prices are “becoming too much for local businesses.”
“This project is out of character and certainly misses the spirit of Aspen,” Goodman said.
When the building will be demolished is unknown, as the applicant must receive final approval, Historic Preservation Commission officer Amy Simon said.
Conceptual approval, which focuses on the height, scale, mass and proportions of a building, is the first step in demolishment. That is followed by the final approval, which involves decision-making on “architectural details” such as windows and lighting, Simon said.
However, the applicant must return to the commission to seek final approval within a year of receiving conceptual approval, Simon added.
While the commission is the only decision-making board for this project, the City Council will receive notice of call-up after conceptual review approval, Adams noted.
Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the future of another one of Hunt’s properties on Cooper Avenue also was discussed.
Located at 434 E. Cooper Ave., the 15,000-square-foot Bidwell building houses Kemo Sabe, Ryno’s Pies & Pints restaurant, N.A. Noel Art Gallery and five other tenants.
Talk of demolishing Bidwell, however, was moved to a Sept. 30 meeting.
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