Aspen Boomerang proposal to be scaled back | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Boomerang proposal to be scaled back

The group proposing to redevelop the Boomerang Lodge has notified the city of plans to decrease the project's size by removing one floor and shrinking the unit sizes, among other changes.

The public hearing for the Boomerang proposal, slated to resume Monday following its first installment in September, will likely be delayed until Jan. 22 to give the developers more time to refine the design.

That's according to a memo from Jennifer Phelan, the city's deputy planning director, to the Aspen City Council. The city on Thursday released the memo, which indicates the Community Development Department supports forwarding the hearing until January.

"The applicant (New Jersey developers Marshall Tycher and Eric Witmondt, through ME Aspen Ventures One LLC) is making these changes in response to what we heard from the council and the neighbors," said Chris Bendon of the Aspen planning firm BendonAdams LLC, which represents the developers. "We're trying to come up with a project that meets those needs but also is a viable building project."

Located on the 500 block of West Hopkins Avenue, the old Boomerang Lodge has gone through a string of proposed development scenarios, as well as a lawsuit that thwarted an affordable-housing development, since 2006.

Tycher and Witmondt have the dilapidated property — only the historically designated east wing still exists — under contract to buy from Aspen FSP ABR LLC, which bought the land and the 1949-built lodge for $13.5 million in June 2005.

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The would-be buyers are seeking what is known in city land-use speak as a planned-development amendment and a minor amendment to a project review.

At the first part of the public hearing, held in September, the group asked for modifications to approvals the redevelopment won in 2006.

"What they are going to do is put a big shadow over the entire neighborhood," said resident Dick Carter, who lives in the Christiana Lodge on West Main Street, at the public hearing. Other neighbors offered similar views, claiming it is too big and will create more traffic in a quaint neighborhood with which it doesn't mesh.

The City Council, by a 3-2 vote, opted to continue the hearing until Oct. 9, which also was postponed. Council members Ann Mullins and Bert Myrin voted against the continuance because they were ready to deny the proposal at the September meeting.

The developers now are considering having 21 units averaging 795 square feet, compared with 23 units averaging 977 square feet in the previous version pitched to the City Council. The key count would be lowered from 47 to 35, and one of the five free-market units would be removed.

Bendon said it is too early to go public with the revised proposal's size; the approval allows a floor area of 46,140 square feet. The number of affordable-housing units, two, would stay the same, he said. Parking is another issue on the table, whether it's underground or on the street.

"Please understand that the exact program remains fluid as refinements of the architecture continue," Bendon wrote in a letter to the city, which is part of the City Council's agenda packet for Monday's meeting. "More time is needed to fully understand if these changes will result in a viable project and to prepare and submit amendments to the pending application."

The property is located within the city's Medium-Density Residential zone district, but it includes Lodge Preservation Overlay that allows for a hotel or inn.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com

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