Lodge at Aspen Mountain developers push on through
ASPEN – The developers of the Lodge at Aspen Mountain, a controversial land-use proposal that has been in the works for six years, have decided to move forward with another citizen committee that will finish what a prior one had started last year.
John Sarpa, who represents Centurion Partners, said Thursday that they plan to enlist a citizen task force known as the Lodge at Aspen COWOP (convenience and welfare of the public) to devise a new development plan along South Aspen Street and at the base of Lift 1A.
The Aspen City Council earlier this month had approved the committee’s formation, and members were scheduled to be selected Monday. But developers delayed that move so they could regroup and decide whether to proceed with their hotel development plans, or just build 17 townhomes on the site, for which they already have approval.
But Sarpa and his partners decided this week they should continue building on the work that was done by a former 26-member COWOP, which voted and recommended to the council a master plan for the entire area.
“We’ve spent so much time and effort, as have so many others, that it’s worth an additional push to see if all the changes we’ve made are acceptable,” Sarpa said.
He has been meeting with critics in recent months and has presented a scaled-down development proposal, which is about 10 percent smaller than last year’s reiteration. The entire building has been broken up with varying facades, designs and rooflines that make it appear like they are separate buildings, each between 40,000 and 50,000 square feet.
The focus of the new task force will be on the 160,00-square-foot building’s scale and mass – an issue that didn’t get fully flushed out last year because of developers’ time constraints. The building’s size was the main reason the council shot the proposal down earlier this year.
The master plan was ultimately withdrawn because of a lack of support by the council, and the COWOP task force was disbanded.
The purpose of the new task force will be to build on what’s already been created in the master plan. However, that plan now looks much different because a second developer, Roaring Fork Mountain Lodge-Aspen, has withdrawn its 130,000-square-foot lodge proposal as a co-applicant. The developers, David Wilhelm, Jim Chaffin and Jim Light, who are represented by Bob Daniel, have filed a separate application to build what’s known as the Lift One Lodge at the base of Lift 1A, across the street from Sarpa’s project. Daniel is scheduled to go before the council on Monday for an initial review of the proposal.
How long the new COWOP will meet and who participates in it remains to be seen. Sarpa had asked that the new group meet four or five times, and then make a recommendation to council by September.
But the council said last week that it wasn’t a sufficient amount of time, and the hotel’s size was a significant issue that shouldn’t be rushed or dictated by developers’ time schedule, which affects their financing of the project.
Sarpa said Thursday he’s open to whatever timeline the new task force sets upon itself, but he hopes it doesn’t drag on too long.
“It will be up to the COWOP to discuss its scope of review and time frame,” he said.
The city’s community development department over the last two weeks has been advertising for applicants – 20 people have applied so far, some of whom have been the project’s biggest critics. Of the applicants, only five of them served on the first COWOP. The deadline to apply is Monday, July 27, at noon.
The council is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, July 28, to select task force members.
Whatever the task force recommends will likely be decided by voters since it appears a majority of council members want the proposal to go on the ballot. If a ballot question is not initiated by the council, some residents have said in the past that they would take the master plan to a referendum.
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