Limelite redevelopment wins P&Z’s blessing
Conceptual plans to replace the Limelite Lodge complex with a new, midpriced hotel and free-market condos won approval Tuesday from the Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission.The commission voted 4-1 to recommend conceptual approval of the Paas family’s plan to redevelop the lodge they’ve operated for four generations.The project will replace 110 existing lodge units in a collection of buildings at Monarch Street and Cooper Avenue with 128 new rooms in one building north of Cooper and 18 free-market condos on the south side of Cooper. The condos will help finance the lodge project.The project’s architect has trimmed 2 feet off the proposed four-story lodge. It will meet the city’s new height limit of 42 feet in the lodge zone at one corner and stand at 46 feet at the opposite end, due to the slope of the site.The new Limelite can go no lower and have any hope of offering 9-foot ceiling heights – the minimum today’s guest finds acceptable, said Steve Szymanski, development manager for the project.”We don’t have a project if we’re under 9 feet,” he said.A couple of neighbors voiced objections to the plan, despite the reduced building height.”Our view of Aspen Mountain would probably be totally blocked,” complained one resident, but most people who addressed the P&Z yesterday were supportive of the plan.”What we’re missing is accommodations for the average traveler,” said Hana Pevny, president and CEO of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association. “This is just critical.””I think it is important to have a new lodge that the younger visitor can afford to stay in,” agreed P&Z member Ruth Kruger.Timely approvals are necessary if the resort is to lose the Limelite to construction for just one ski season, added Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass, a local reservations agency.”I just want to underscore that sense of urgency,” he said.Most commission members voiced a willingness to let the lodge exceed 42 feet – a deviation from the code driven by topography, Szymanski stressed.Commission member Brandon Marion alone voted against the project, objecting to its encroachment into a protected view from the Wheeler Opera House.The conceptual plan will go to the City Council before the month is over. Then the project will return to the P&Z and council for final review.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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