New Aspen City Hall open for business |

New Aspen City Hall open for business

Out with the old, in with the new; Armory has been vacated and new Rio Grande building is new municipal government hub

Joseph Pewitt, left, and Adrian Castellon with IT help fix computers in the new finance department in the redone City Hall in Aspen on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. The new City Hall officially opens to the public on Monday, Nov. 15. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

After several years of community debate, two public votes and tens of millions of dollars spent, Aspen’s new City Hall is open for business.

Dozens of municipal employees spent last week moving into their new offices on Rio Grande Place from the historic Armory Building on Galena Street that has served as City Hall since 1956.

The new City Hall officially opens to the public Monday, where typical municipal business can be conducted, whether it be building and engineering, community development, the city clerk’s office or parking, the latter of which is located in the adjacent Rio Grande building.

A grand opening celebration is planned for Dec. 8 at 11:30 a.m., according to Denise White, the city’s director of communications.

Just about all employees who are working in the new building have moved in, and as they get settled, the public could experience slight delays in response times, White said.

“We’ve been very appreciative of people’s grace and patience while we’ve made the move,” she said. “We are in the space and as we work adjustments are being made.”

Aspen City Council will continue to hold meetings at the Armory through November as supply chain disruptions delayed audio visual equipment needed to broadcast from the new facility.

The first council meeting held in the new City Hall is scheduled for Dec. 7.

Last minute final touches are left in the new City Hall building in Aspen on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

By consolidating most departments into the new 37,000-square-foot building and the accompanying Rio Grande building, the city is saving roughly $500,000 a year in leases on external office space around town.

The lower level of the building includes the main entrance off of Rio Grande Place, as well as the community development and engineering departments and a seating area by the grand staircase.

The middle level consists of the city manager’s office, city attorney, City Council work space and the finance department.

The upper level, accessible from Galena Plaza, will house council chambers, the city clerk’s office and a training room and community meeting space.

The human resources and parking departments will be located in the newly remodeled, attached Rio Grande building.

The new City Hall building in Aspen on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

The IT and utility billing departments will remain at the Armory.

All of the city’s phone numbers, services and business hours remain the same.

The new building was initially designed to accommodate additional municipal government office space but has morphed over time into a vision for a new City Hall.

Thus, the new building is 6,000 square feet short of housing all city departments, so four of them will move into the city-owned Old Power House off North Mill Street once it gets a renovation.

The final cost to construct the new City Hall building was nearly $34.6 million, with a payback of $48.6 million.

The renovation of the 7,000-square-foot Rio Grande building cost $1.7 million.

Once City Council decides what community uses should be put in the armory, it will be renovated with an estimated budget of $7.5 million.

The Aspen Chamber Resort Association, currently located in the power plant, will eventually move into the 19,000-square-foot Armory to use a portion of the building for its visitor center and offices.

There is no rush in deciding what community use will be dedicated to a renovated Armory, since the priority is to make the transition into the new City Hall and build the third phase of Burlingame Ranch affordable housing, City Manager Sara Ott has said previously.

In the interim, she is working on a lease between the city and Pitkin County because the courthouse is undergoing a new phase of renovation, and some court functions will temporarily occur in the armory.


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