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Luxury hotel at base of 1A?

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

A new luxury hotel that combines standard hotel rooms, fractional-ownership units and free-market condos has been proposed at the base of Aspen Mountain near the bottom of Lift 1A.

What has been tentatively named The Lodge at Aspen Mountain would contain 76 hotel rooms, 29 fractional suites to be sold in one-eighth shares, four free-market condos and 12 affordable-housing units to replace the decrepit Mine Dump Apartments that currently occupy a piece of the hotel site.

Developers are also offering to replace the old 1A chairlift, also known as the Shadow Mountain lift, with a high-speed double chair, identical to the Ruthie’s lift above it on the slopes. The new lift’s upper terminus would be located farther up the mountain, providing access to the so-called “dump” runs like Last Dollar.

The project involves some of the same partners who are also pursuing development of The Residences at Little Nell, a slopeside timeshare hotel to the skier’s left of the Little Nell run and the gondola. That project has won conceptual approval.

Aspen Newport Holdings LLC, represented by local attorney Brooke Peterson – also a partner in The Residences – has been formed to develop The Lodge at Aspen Mountain. A conceptual application has been submitted to the city.

The developers already have approvals to build a residential project, including 14 free-market townhomes and 17 affordable units, on the two parcels along South Aspen Street where the hotel is now proposed. Final approval came last July, but Peterson confirmed at that time the partnership was pursuing a hotel plan that could supplant the residential project.

A company to operate the hotel won’t be chosen until it wins conceptual approval, according to the applicants, but rumors of a Four Seasons Hotel have circulated for more than a year.

“Four Seasons is one of many national flag hotels that have approached us,” Peterson said in a June interview. He is currently out of town.

“The proposed lodge has been designed as a five-star facility which will accommodate the needs of such hotel industry flags as Auberge, Rosewood and the Four Seasons,” the application states.

The hotel site consists of two separate parcels that, together, comprise about 2.4 acres.

The northernmost parcel is located north of Juan Street, between South Aspen and South Garmisch streets. It currently contains a house and a parking lot.

The southern parcel, on the other side of Juan Street, is bordered by South Aspen Street on the east, the Juan Street affordable housing to the west and the Shadow Mountain Condominiums to the south. It contains three separate structures that are collectively known as the Mine Dump Apartments, a former lodge that now houses local workers.

The proposed hotel would put new buildings on both sites, one facing the Lift One and Timber Ridge condos to the north and one facing the Holland House and Skier’s Chalet to the east. They would be linked with a bridge over Juan Street.

The existing zoning on the property allows lodge and residential uses, but the proposed development will exceed the zone district’s dimensional restrictions.

The project’s proposed floor area totals 204,500 square feet; the maximum allowed by the zoning is 93,815 square feet.

The zoning allows a building height of 28 feet, but the hotel project will measure about 75 feet at its peak – a single point on the gazebo-style roof of a free-market unit, as measured from the natural grade beneath the building.

The site features sloping land; parts of the hotel rise four stories above grade. Its height along South Aspen Street varies from 49 to 67 feet, according to the application. The average height of the hotel complex around its perimeter is about 53 feet.

Developers are allowed to seek variations from the building size allowed in the zoning district through a planned unit development application.

The project’s 76 hotel units would include 58 standard rooms, eight larger “executive” suites, seven one-bedroom suites, two two-bedroom suites and one three-bedroom “presidential suite.”

The fractional units include four two-bedroom units, 23 three-bedroom units and two four-bedroom units. Tentative sale prices for the one-eighth shares, which allow four weeks of use, range from about $563,500 to $833,750.

The free-market condos will each contain four bedrooms and about 4,000 square feet.

The application also outlines plans for a fitness center and spa, an outdoor pool, a restaurant and bar, an apres-ski/dining terrace, a ballroom and meeting room, business center, small shops and 156 underground parking spaces.

Under the city’s code, the developers must replace half of the bedrooms that are demolished with the razing of the Mine Dump Apartments. Eleven studios and one two-bedroom unit are proposed within the hotel to meet that requirement.

The project must also provide housing for 60 percent of the workers it generates, but until an operator is chosen to run the hotel, estimating the size of the staff is difficult. Industry standards for a five-star hotel suggest 150 to 200 people will be employed there, the application notes.

The developers propose providing 60 percent of the worker housing within the city and the remaining 40 percent within the unincorporated portion of Aspen’s urban growth boundary.

They have a site under contract at the Aspen Business Center where they intend to house a portion of the workers for The Residences project. It could also house some employees of The Lodge at Aspen Mountain, according to Sunny Vann, planning consultant for both developments.

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com]


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