Mitigation holds up decision on Aspen Club expansion |

Mitigation holds up decision on Aspen Club expansion

Aaron Hedge
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Contributed imageAn artist's rendering of the expanded Aspen Club. The proposal stalled before the City Council again on Monday.

ASPEN – The Aspen City Council on Monday night tabled for the sixth time since January a project to expand the Aspen Club by about 100,000 square feet – which would more than double its existing expanse – and allow more accommodation for its customers, including 20 timeshare condominiums.

Mayor Mick Ireland told club owner Michael Fox to compile a mitigation list should the project fail to reach its goals; the council will hear those measures in a special hearing June 1 at 2 p.m.

Ireland and Councilman Steve Skadron voiced worry that the project would not live up to its expectations, including a number of community benefits listed in Fox’s application to the council.

“Here’s my concern: You’ve got two council members up here who are concerned that the document, as presented, doesn’t have language that ensures continuity of services,” Ireland said, regarding the club possibly undergoing a leadership change that would discontinue current services.

Possible consequences would be a monetary payout to the city if it is determined that the project failed to meet the goals within a certain timeframe.

The precise amount of time and cash is yet to be set.

The decision came after Fox complied with a volley of more than 30 broad concerns discussed in the previous council meeting on the project.

Those include: continuity of ownership, sufficient funds for the project in the form of bonds, fire mitigation, no exterior lighting that interferes with existing structures and ensuring that traffic volume doesn’t grow on Ute Avenue, among others.

The council was happy with most of Fox’s adjustments to the application, the most notable of which alleviated their concerns about the size of the massive project, which will make the club larger by 52 units in total.

Before the council decided to table the issue, Councilman Derek Johnson said the approval process – three years in the making – was taking too long, and could turn off potential project investors.

“I’m a little worried that the process has the potential for killing the project,” he said.

That appeared to anger Skadron, who said it doesn’t matter how long it takes to “do the right thing.”

Project supporters and Aspen Club staff have said the expanded living quarters and club facilities would offer a public benefit to the Aspen community by allowing it a more viable future.

Fox, since he brought the project to the city for a second time, has told officials that the Aspen Club might not last much longer if it didn’t expand.

And Monday, Fox told the council: “The odds of [the club] going away are much higher if you say no.”

The council’s decision to table the discussion continues the three-year battle between the city and owners of the club, which has been underscored by contention over a number of the project’s zoning and logistical implications.

The expansion has sparked the ire of some in the community who say it sets a bad precedent for future zoning decisions, as the city will have to alter land-use rules to allow the Aspen Club project.

During Monday’s meeting, project skeptics said the initiative would create an environment in which council members could change zoning laws as they saw fit.

To come into compliance with the council’s demands, Fox also had to commit to at least $5 million in renovations for the existing part of the club to improve its energy emissions with better HVAC systems and to replace existing facilities, such as spa and exercise equipment.


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