Hunt seeks parking and housing waivers | AspenTimes.com

Hunt seeks parking and housing waivers

Karl Herchenroeder
The Aspen Times

Downtown developer Mark Hunt submitted applications Thursday for two lodge-development proposals, which include requests for waivers on all affordable-housing mitigation and off-street-parking requirements.

The lodges would add a combined 78 rooms, with an average room size below 200 square feet, on Main Street and Cooper Avenue. Each hotel would feature street-level commercial space and rooftop terraces, while basement plans are geared toward public amenities, with two bowling lanes planned at Cooper Avenue. Plans do not include free-market residential units.

While discussing the affordable-housing-mitigation waivers Friday, Hunt made the case that his plans mitigate in other ways — by providing affordable lodging, for instance. He said he has heard the calls at City Hall and around town for more affordable lodging, and he's interested to see how his concepts are received by the Aspen City Council, whether favorably or not.

"I just want to put my best foot forward," he said. "If it works, great."

If it doesn't work, he said he will return to original plans, which he did not offer details on. Hunt is currently working through five concepts, including the lodges dubbed "Base1" and "Base2," and three commercial spaces. He presented preliminary plans for all five before the Historic Preservation Commission on Sept. 17, receiving an overwhelmingly positive response.

Hunt, who along with investors has amassed more than $100 million in Aspen investments across more than a dozen properties, has been pushing the lodges as the affordable product the city has been seeking, one that will draw young people to Aspen.

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Base1 would replace the Buckhorn Arms building, which houses Johnny McGuire's Deli and Domino's Pizza at 730 E. Cooper Ave. The proposed 44-foot-tall hotel would have a final floor area of 17,484 square feet and would include 40 lodge units at an average size of 173 square feet. The commercial lodge zone district has a height limit of 38 feet (40 feet through special review). The structure's two street-level commercial-spaces — both around 1,500 square feet — are planned as restaurants.

The project would require mitigation for 3.89 full-time employees. However, the applicant argues that the project does not fit into the same category as Aspen hotels, such as the Little Nell and the St. Regis, and requested different standards. A similar argument is made for Base2, a lodge planned at the Conoco gas-station site on Main Street that would require mitigation for about 3.5 full-time employees. Ultimately, the applicant requests that affordable-housing mitigation be waived altogether.

As proposed, the 39-foot-tall Base2 lodge would have a final floor area of 18,277 square feet and would include 38 lodge units. Maximum height in the mixed-use zone district is 28 feet (32 feet through special review). The ground floor would include two commercial spaces, both around 1,500 square feet, with one dedicated to restaurant and bar use. The basement also would include a bar as well as a lounge, library room and steam room.

Neither lodge provides off-street parking, while code requires about 21 spaces at Base1 and about 20 spaces at Base2. The applicant argues that the lodges are blocks away from the commercial-core and commercial-1 zone districts, which do not include parking requirements. The applicant also states that shuttle services would be provided to guests, who also would be encouraged to use public transportation and bicycles.

Base1 will be subject to Planning and Zoning Commission review prior to Aspen City Council review, while Base2 will be subject to Historic Preservation Commission review before the council weighs in.

herk@aspentimes.com