Aspen City Council chooses to hunker down in new building |

Aspen City Council chooses to hunker down in new building

A majority of Aspen’s elected officials agreed Tuesday that the government seat should be in the new 37,500-square-foot municipal office building at Rio Grande Place.

Four council members, with Mayor Torre in the minority, agreed that they want City Council chambers to be on the third floor of the new building.

That meeting area falls under a planned 1,800-square-foot space characterized in conceptual plans as a lecture hall facing Galena Plaza.

Boards and commissions, and other community groups, can use that space, as well.

A second meeting space, the Sister Cities room, also will be contemplated in the new building.

Staff can begin programming where other departments will be located now that council’s preference on where it meets has been decided.

Where to lease space to the Aspen Chamber Resort Association (ACRA) — whether it’s in the old armory, which is the current City Hall, or the new building — is still unclear.

A majority of council appeared to favor the armory for ACRA and, if there’s room, to reserve space for community uses.

“I’d like to utilize the new building as much as possible,” and free up space in the armory building for community uses, Councilman Ward Hauenstein said.

That would go toward honoring a 2015 advisory vote in which a majority of Aspen voters wanted the armory to become a community building used for purposes other than government activity.

Voters last fall approved the location of the new, three-story building to be sandwiched between Rio Grande Place and Galena Plaza, with the armory also being used as offices for municipal employees.

With a renovation of the existing Rio Grande building and the armory, as well as the new office building, the whole package is estimated to cost between $46 million and $49 million.

Financed through certificates of participation, the payback is capped at $60 million.

The renovations and additional offices are designed to provide adequate space for city employees to work and centralized locations for the public.

Currently, municipal employees are working in cramped office space in City Hall, or are spread throughout town in rented buildings that cost the local government more than $500,000 a year.