It’s the hot beds, stupid

Dear Editor:

Headlines suggest that our lodging base is a serious problem to our future economy. I believe it, but is that really a newsflash? I mean, haven’t we known this for decades? A tourist economy needs beds to put tourists in. The more diverse the bed base, the better. So …

There are three acres of ski-in, ski-out land on Aspen Mountain sitting there wanting to be short-term accommodation. Developers want to build what we say we need and want. The site is largely invisible to town. Yet without council action, we are going to end up with large, empty townhomes. No!

What about the lumberyard? The city way overpaid for the site, but might it make sense to find a medium-range hotel for that site rather than more of the same affordable housing? (Building more of the same affordable housing hurts existing affordable-housing owners.)

The base of Buttermilk is a development waiting to happen – especially if we can take the environmental high ground, create an attractive park-and-ride/visitor center and connect our mountains with gondolas. How awesome would that be?

Can we find a way to build a dormitory-style lodge dedicated to bringing in tourists at a lower economic level (perhaps prioritizing nonprofit visitors)? Get them here once, and they are more likely to come back here than any other resort in the world.

What we also know is selling high-end homes is easier for developers. Is it any surprise that is what property owners and developers think to build first?

So, what is the future council going to do to change the equation? I am all for lowering heights in the core, and I don’t see how tall buildings with penthouses help the community, but I also am for letting developers have a little more leeway on heights out of the core where they want to build what we want them to build – hot beds.

Scott Writer