New hotel plans resurrected for downtown Aspen
With a preference for more hotel rooms in downtown Aspen over an affordable-housing complex with no onsite parking, elected officials this week told developer Mark Hunt to move forward with his approved Base 1 lodge.
On Monday, Aspen City Council granted Hunt a 12-month extension on his vested rights to build the 42-room hotel and give him time to reconfigure the programming inside the building.
First approved in 2015, Hunt’s vested rights were set to expire in July. He asked for an 18-month extension but council cut that by six months, upon city staff recommendation.
While Base 1 lodge will remain a mixed-use project with hotel rooms and retail and restaurant space, one level of below-grade space will be eliminated under a new plan that goes back to council in the near future.
Chris Bendon, the land-use consultant representing Hunt, said after doing cost estimates for the work to dig three levels down, or 35 feet, it was determined to be too expensive so one floor will be removed.
“It was just exorbitant and upside down in price to the point that we had to look at other alternatives,” Bendon said.
Hunt had considered redeveloping the property at the corner of Cooper Avenue and Original Street known as the Buckhorn Arms building as an apartment complex, or scrapping the design of the approved building and starting over to build space for a bank or a pharmacy.
Council members said Monday that affordable lodge rooms are what the community needs and because they are planned to be 200 square feet each, they will be in the lower price point.
Bendon said building Base 1 lodge is Hunt’s first preference, as long as he can make an amendment to the approval that sees one below-grade floor eliminated.
Whether that is one level of parking or a floor of amenity space (a Turkish bath was envisioned) is what Hunt and his team are considering before returning to council.
A rooftop deck is part of the approval, along with 4,592 square feet of commercial space inside and just over 12,000 square feet for the lodge.
Hunt is pursuing parking options offsite; the approved plan had 23 spots below the building. Today’s land-use code requires 12 spots, Bendon noted.
Councilman Bert Myrin cast the dissenting vote Monday for the vested rights because of parking.
“I don’t want it to get any worse than it already is with the current proposal,” he said. “I just don’t want anybody to drive by and look for parking spaces and say, ‘If you hadn’t done what you did it would have been easier to find parking.’”
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A recent survey of Aspen residents shows that people are happy here, feel safe but are financially insecure.