New hotel means new housing, says housing board
Housing units at the Bavarian Inn should not count as mitigation for new housing needs created by redevelopment of the Grand Aspen Hotel, the housing board agreed Wednesday.
That recommendation to the City Council relies on the board’s interpretation of a ballot question posed to Aspen voters nine years ago.
The redevelopment of the Grand Aspen is part of phase two of an application, called the Aspen Mountain Subdivision, that was originally submitted in 1983.
In 1990, phase one of the application, development of the Ritz-Carlton hotel (now the St. Regis), was approved by Aspen voters. The ballot language included the statement: “In addition, the Developer shall, in good faith, process a land-use application for affordable housing suitable for the 8/10ths of an acre on Main Street known as the Bavarian Inn property.”
Savanah Limited Partnership is now pursuing phase two of its application, which includes a new 150-room hotel at the Grand Aspen site.
John Sarpa, representing Savanah, argued that Savanah had always intended to use the Bavarian Inn as possible mitigation for both the former Ritz and any future component of the Aspen Mountain application.
According to Sarpa, the 1990 ballot question carefully included “Aspen Mountain” to encompass current and future aspects of the project.
There was much debate between Sarpa and housing board members on what was represented during the campaign surrounding the ballot question. There was also some dispute over what transpired in Bavarian Inn hearings subsequent to 1990.
But ultimately, the question of whether Savanah intended use of the Bavarian to fulfill its housing obligations for any part of its development plans, or whether the Bavarian was presented to voters as an inducement to approve the Ritz, board members concluded that debate is irrelevant.
Housing at the Bavarian Inn was required by the ballot language even if phase two was never pursued, board members agreed last night.
Since the Bavarian was required for phase one, it can’t be used to satisfy subsequent developments, the board said.
“If phase two had never come along, there is still an obligation for the Bavarian Inn. Since that’s the case, I feel this should not be used doubly as mitigation,” said member Carrie Britton.
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