New plan for old home still troubles HPC |

New plan for old home still troubles HPC

Jeremy Heiman

Preservation of Aspen’s historic architecture, never an easy job, is getting even more difficult for the volunteer board that reviews development plans.

Tonight, the Historic Preservation Commission will review an application for development at 302 E. Hopkins Ave., for the sixth time. The existing house on the property, known as the A.G. Sheppard house, is a designated historic landmark, built in 1883. It is the only building of its architectural type – carpenter Gothic style – remaining in Aspen, according to city officials.

The applicant, owner John Davis, originally presented a plan to build a three-story commercial building behind the one-story historic house. The plan showed the new building physically connected to the house. The 24-by-29-foot building would completely fill the back portion of the lot from edge to edge.

The commission on Aug. 12 expressed various objections. The connection between the buildings, the three-story height of the new building, a courtyard arrangement included in the plan, a rooftop deck, and the cumulative effect of those elements troubled the HPC.

The applicant, who is represented by architect Jake Vickery, is coming before the board tonight with a plan that is not significantly different from the previous one. The connector between the structures has been removed, but the plan “is otherwise unchanged in any way,” a city staff memo indicates.

The memo also indicates that five members of the seven-member HPC would not support a building of more than two stories behind the house. Commission member Heidi Friedland said she feels three stories is too much for the new building, saying it “overshadows” the house.

In a letter to the editor of The Aspen Times, former HPC member Leslie Holst pleads with the public to support the work of the board, saying the project at 302 E. Hopkins is particularly important, and calling the application “terribly inappropriate.” (The letter appears on page 8-A.)

Aspenite Helen Palmer, in a letter published Tuesday, wrote, “To allow this to have an outsized addition … will destroy the visual integrity and the historic charm of one of the last homes that reminds us of Aspen as it was during the mining era.”

Historic Preservation Officer Amy Guthrie said her direction to the commission, after five meetings on this application, is to give very specific direction to the applicant, making it clear what’s acceptable on the property. If the applicant can’t or doesn’t want to comply, Guthrie said, the commission should consider a recommendation of denial.

The HPC will meet at 5 p.m. at Aspen City Hall.

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