Limelight gets a green light
Redevelopment of the Limelite Lodge cleared another hurdle Tuesday, gaining the unanimous support of the Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission even as members called for another reduction in the height of the project.The P&Z voted, 5-0, to recommend approval of the plans, which will go to the City Council for final review early next year. As a condition, though, the P&Z recommended a reduction of 10 to 15 percent in the height of the building, which is to contain 17 free-market condos.Project architect John Cottle called the reduction monstrous. It will be up to council members to force the issue or not.The redevelopment would replace the collection of lodge buildings centered at Cooper Avenue and Monarch Street with a new Limelight Lodge (with the spelling tweaked from the current Limelite) containing 125 mid-priced lodge rooms, plus the separate condo building.New city zoning regulations allow the free-market component to facilitate the lodge redevelopment, but the height of the condo building has troubled council and P&Z members, as well as neighbors.Tuesday night, several condo owners at the 210 E. Cooper building, west of the lodge, reiterated their objections to the loss of their views of Aspen Mountain with the condo building that would go up across the street, on the south side of Cooper.There is no way that I think any of our owners can be compensated for losing their views of the mountain, said Bob Leatherman, president of the 210 E. Cooper Homeowners Association. Thats just a fact were dealing with.The Limelight application is the wrong project by the right people, said condo owner Jim French, acknowledging that longtime and respected local residents, the Paas-Woolery family, operate the lodge.He questioned the need for the condos, which have been identified as the financial engine that allows development of new mid-priced lodge rooms, and the buildings height.They need this gigantic building, if they need it at all, to pay for the $8.2 million Snowflake, he said, referring to the familys acquisition of the Snowflake Inn next to the Limelight.All I ask is that you make the applicants justify the project with hard evidence and not rhetoric, French said.Alan Bush, a property owner at 210 E. Hyman Ave., north of the proposed new lodge building, urged P&Z to seek a reasonable compromise between a worthy project and its impacts on the neighbors.He said he has been told the value of his condo will decrease by $100,000 when a new, taller lodge building goes up across the street.Its just peripheral impacts, but they are real peripheral impacts to a small portion of this community, he said.P&Z members agreed with the need for the lodge accommodations to be offered by a new Limelight, but some of them were troubled by building heights, even if theyre permitted by the city code.I dont think a community of 42-foot buildings is what Aspen is all about, said Jasmine Tygre, commission chairwoman.I think theres still room to bring this [condo] building down in height meet the neighbors half way, said commission member Dylan Johns. I think this building can come down several feet.The condo buildings height varies from about 25 feet at its lowest to just under 42 feet at its highest point, along Monarch Street. The proposed new lodges height will be 42 feet at its main entrance at Cooper and Monarch on the southeast corner. It will top 45 feet at the northwest corner of the building, as the grade of the site drops off. An elevator shaft on that building will hit 50 feet.Janet Urquharts e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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