Aspen developers ask for extension on hotel at base of mountain
Land owners at the base of Aspen Mountain’s west side who are approved to develop a hotel and fractional ownership lodge are asking elected officials to give them three more years of vested rights.
If Aspen City Council agrees to the request tonight during its regular meeting, it will be the third extension of vested rights for Lift One Lodge Aspen LLC., which is controlled by local hoteliers and developers Aaron and Michael Brown.
Approved plans call for an 84-room hotel divided into 22 fractional-ownership units that would encompass 77,000 square feet. Also part of the approval are five free-market units, subgrade parking and dormitory-style affordable housing. That will all be on land where the historic Skiers Chalet Lodge and the old Lift One alignment sit.
The reason for the extension of approvals is so that Lift One Lodge developers can work with other nearby landowners to find an amenable solution to replacing the current Lift 1A chairlift.
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The Brown brothers in the past agreed to postpone their development plans in order to work with developers of a proposed hotel called the Gorsuch Haus to be located above Lift One Lodge. Aspen Skiing Co. also is involved in the effort to find the most optimal chairlift alignment that will satisfy all parties and the community.
Replacement of the decades-old double chairlift is part of the land-use application for the 81-key Gorsuch Haus. The application was put on hold in March 2017 so the alignment could be studied further.
Council members and much of the community want the lift to come down as far as possible, perhaps as low as Dean Street. They also are concerned that as a result of development, the lift would end up acting more like a private lift for Gorsuch Haus, because of the building’s design and the topography of the land. So the Browns and others involved continue to achieve a mutually beneficial location.
Last fall, the consulting firm SE Group was hired to study the options. Nine of them were presented and council whittled them down to two, with modifications. SE Group is expected to come back to council with a more refined analysis May 15.
While the city’s community development staff recommends a two-year extension of vested rights for consistency’s sake, they “strongly support providing additional time to allow the applicant to react to any potential design changes that are necessary to a potential new Lift 1A location,” reads a memo to council.
Staff also recognized the Browns’ position that the current economic conditions are favorable to development, and delaying the lodge puts them at financial risk.
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