La Co plan: Three stories in view plane |

La Co plan: Three stories in view plane

John Colson

The new owner of the old La Cocina building in downtown Aspen has proposed replacing it with a three-story structure that would jut into what is known as the Main Street view plane of Aspen Mountain.The view plane, which a city ordinance established in the early 1970s, protects the views of Aspen Mountain from a spot just in front of the Hotel Jerome on Main Street. There are several other protected view planes, including views from spots at the Pitkin County Courthouse, the Wheeler Opera House, Glory Hole Park and Wagner Park.The upper floor of the new building, at 308 E. Hopkins Ave., would be visible from the spot in front of the Hotel Jerome and would “create a new intrusion into the view plane,” according to a memo from historic preservation planner Amy Guthrie.The redevelopment plan got its first public airing this week before the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, which put off a decision on the application until at least April 19, and possibly until May 10.Walt Harris, who owns the Syzygy restaurant on Hyman Avenue, has not said exactly what kind of restaurant he plans to open in the spot that for decades housed La Cocina, one of Aspen’s most popular local restaurants.Harris, with partner John Provine, bought the property last summer for a reported price of $4 million and quickly opened another Mexican eatery, La Comida.Under the plans submitted to the city of Aspen, the old one-story structure would be demolished, and the new building would have a basement with storage space and a “tenant space,” a restaurant on the first floor, a mix of employee housing and a free-market unit on the second floor, and a free-market unit on the top floor.In addition to concerns about the view plane, Guthrie said, the HPC members had questions about the “mass and scale” of the proposed building compared with neighboring structures.”The scale of that street is pretty low,” Guthrie said. The other buildings in that block are one or two stories tall and less massive than the proposed new La Comida building.Guthrie said there also was some debate about the plans for a total of four balconies facing Hopkins Avenue, two on each of the two upper floors of the building.John Colson’s e-mail address is

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