Mark Hunt says Base2 would be a tough sell in Aspen | AspenTimes.com
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Mark Hunt says Base2 would be a tough sell in Aspen

Karl Herchenroeder
The Aspen Times
This image rendering shows Mark Hunt's Base2 concept on Main Street.

Despite winning unanimous approval for his Cooper Avenue lodge project Base1, developer Mark Hunt said Thursday that his Main Street lodge proposal Base2 remains on hold.

“I think I would need to get quite a bit of support before moving forward on (Base2),” Hunt said. “It might be a tough sell. I have to stop knocking doors for a while.”

Hunt initially requested a number of land-use variances for Base1, including waivers on 24 parking spaces, affordable-housing mitigation for two full-time employees and $40,000 in impact fees. Following a lengthy public hearing in January, Hunt returned to the Aspen City Council on Monday without variance requests and an agreement for 15 parking spaces at the St. Regis Aspen Resort, which resulted in unanimous council support.

The 44-room lodge, which conforms to code on height and floor area and does not include free-market residences, would replace the Cooper Avenue building home to Domino’s and other businesses. Hunt expects construction to take 10 to 12 months if and when he receives a building permit.

The Planning and Zoning Commission has yet to review various details, including the protection of a cottonwood tree, landscaping, lighting and overall design. City of Aspen senior planner Sara Adams said it could be weeks before Base1 is scheduled before the board.

As proposed, Base2 would replace the Conoco gas station on Main Street with a 36-foot-tall, 18,700-square-foot lodge, whereas zoning allows for 32 feet in height and 7,500 square feet in floor area. Other variance requests for the project include waivers on 21 parking spaces, affordable-housing mitigation for three employees and about $90,000 in impact fees.

Though Hunt is scheduled to return to the council for Base2 review March 9, he said Thursday that it might be too soon, given the political climate surrounding development.

In May, Aspen voters will decide whether Aspen City Council-granted variances on height, floor area, affordable housing and parking should be subject to public voting. If approved, the Home Rule Charter Amendment headed by resident Bert Myrin would make Aspen voters the final authority on major land-use applications. Meanwhile, city planners are crafting a code amendment that could potentially address variance control before the election.

“For now, it might be a little too soon,” Hunt said, adding that the approval process for commercial projects is more in his comfort zone.

His first redevelopment project, Aspen 1, which replaced the old Gap building, did not require council review. He regarded the experience with Base1 as “unbelievable.”

“I’ve never done anything like that before. I was really meeting with just about anyone that would listen,” he said.

herk@aspentimes.com


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