Molly Gibson Lodge rebuilding project is set for public review |

Molly Gibson Lodge rebuilding project is set for public review

A scrape-and-replace proposal at the Molly Gibson Lodge is poised for its first round of public review, with an open house scheduled today at the hotel and a meeting with the Historic Preservation Commission set for Nov. 12.

As proposed, the 53-room hotel, located at 101 W. Main St., would be torn down and replaced with a 32-foot-tall, 35,500-square-foot structure containing 64 rooms with an average size of 300 square feet. Plans also call for the construction of three free-market residential units — two 4,500-square-foot houses and one 1,500-square-foot unit — as well as a one-bedroom affordable-housing unit. The proposal does not include requests for waivers on fees or parking mitigation, though the structure’s height would require special review.

Michael Brown, who co-owns the Molly Gibson, the Hotel Aspen and the Mountain House Lodge with his brother Aaron Brown, called the project an attempt to create more affordable lodging in Aspen, which the Aspen City Council has been seeking. The Browns have requested a planned development review, which is subject to site-specific approval.

“I think that (the plan for 300-square-foot hotel rooms) really speaks to the affordable nature of the project, and certainly our Main Street location lends itself nicely to that, as well,” Michael Brown said.

Sara Adams, senior planner for the Aspen Community Development Department, is currently working with city staff on a recommendation to present to the Historic Preservation Commission on Nov. 12. She said the city staff is generally supportive of the two single-family homes planned along Hopkins Avenue, but there are concerns about the overall size of the homes.

The property — which recently expanded by 3,000 square feet with the Browns’ purchase of a vacant lot next door — straddles mixed-use and residential-6 zone districts and contains a lodge-preservation overlay.

For this particular lot, the residential-6 zone allows 4,080 square feet for two single-family homes. The project calls for 9,000 square feet on Hopkins Avenue, though Adams said it’s possible to vary that requirement from the underlying zoning through the planned development process.

“They’re a lot larger than what’s allowed in (residential-6 zoning), but we understand there needs to be a balance since this is a lodge project in the lodge-preservation zone district,” Adams said. “With that being said, it still needs to relate to the context of the neighborhood. So it’s finding that balance.”

Michael Brown said he has been working closely with city staff in trying to solidify the relationship between the proposed redevelopment and an adjacent Victorian home to ensure they “play well together.” He said today’s open house, which is scheduled for 5 p.m. in the Molly Gibson Lodge breakfast room, is an informal introduction to their concept.

“We’re hoping that (residents) see what we’ve done and how sensitive we’ve been to the surrounding neighbors and that it preserves small-town character and it is a sensible development,” Brown said.

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