Hunt gets OK to raze and replace downtown Aspen building |

Hunt gets OK to raze and replace downtown Aspen building

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Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

Developer Mark Hunt won approval Wednesday for his proposal to tear down and replace the building formerly inhabited by the Aspen Daily News.

The Historic Preservation Commission gave conceptual design approval to Hunt, who bought the 517 E. Hopkins Ave. building for $10 million in June 2014.

Built in 1985, the existing structure, known as the City Plaza Building, includes office and retail space on the first and second floors and four affordable-housing units on the third level. Covering more than 12,000 square feet and sitting on a 9,000-square-foot lot, the building also houses the City Hall annex, which includes the Building and Engineering departments in its subground space.

Hunt, who owns 10 downtown buildings and has at least two under contract to buy, is aiming to tear down the structure and redevelop it to be used for commercial purposes. Hunt’s application to raze and replace the building, which is not historic, went before the Historic Preservation Commission because it is within the Commercial Core Historic Overlay District.

“The current proposal envisions demolition of the existing building and redeveloping the property with a two-story commercial building,” reads Hunt’s application, which Mitch Haas of Haas Land Planning LLC filed with the city in September. “No residential units are included in this redevelopment, and the proposal fully complies with the Commercial Core zoning.”

The 28-foot-tall project, which still could be called up by City Council for further review, seeks 19,244 square feet of net leasable space, with 7,015 on the ground floor and 12,234 between the basement and second floors.

Because the existing building has no parking, only 6.48 parking spaces would be required under city code, the application states. However, Hunt has committed to pay $194,400 to the city in lieu of parking. Hunt also has proposed a 1,100-square-foot deck area on the second floor to satisfy the city’s public-amenities requirement.

“The proposed redevelopment of 517 E. Hopkins Ave. will do a far better job of reinforcing the retail-oriented function of the street and enhance its pedestrian character than does the existing building,” the application says, noting the building will be a “product of its own time.”

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