Obermeyer back to drawing board? | AspenTimes.com

Obermeyer back to drawing board?

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Obermeyer Place may be headed back to the drawing board.

Attempts to incorporate everything that everybody would like to see in the redevelopment project has created something that’s too massive for the community’s tastes. The developers aren’t crazy about it, either, according to Tim Belinski, chief financial officer for Sport Obermeyer.

Belinski is a member of the COWOP task force that has been working for months on a plan to redevelop a pocket of Aspen buildings that contain a number of the city’s service/industrial businesses.

What has evolved is a proposal to replace various structures with four new four-story buildings that contain a mix of service/commercial/industrial tenants, free-market condos and affordable housing. Underground parking, the vacation of part of Rio Grande Place and the widening of what is now East Bleeker Street to serve the project are also envisioned.

The City Council told the task force to cap the project at four stories, but that may still be too high, Belinski told the council at a work session Monday.

“Even though it’s four floors, we’re still feeling like we’re not pleased with the outcome,” he said. “It may be that where we’re headed is a total reconfiguring of the site.”

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The task force had been scheduled to meet Wednesday, but that session has been postponed until Aug. 14 to give the design team time to come up with an alternative plan.

Something has to give, Belinski warned the council, seeking input on what members most want to retain in the project.

The task force is still committed to replacing all the existing SCI space, so existing tenants will have a place to operate in the new development, he said.

Some of the underground parking the city wants to serve other projects, the relocation of the recycling center from Rio Grande Park into the project or the street reconfiguration may be sacrificed in the redesign, Belinski said.

Those aspects are costly and forced the design team to load the project with free-market housing to pay for it, which in turn results in taller buildings, he said.

Belinski said he’d like to see the buildings stick within the existing 35-foot height limit established by the area’s zoning as much as possible.

“If we can do 35, keep it at that height; I would certainly support that,” Mayor Helen Klanderud said. “I’ve felt all along, the lower, the better.”

Council members were split, though, on whether they’d rather sacrifice some of the 100 underground parking spaces they hoped to gain, or some of the affordable housing.

“It’s a golden opportunity [for parking]. We don’t have any others that I know of,” Councilman Tom McCabe said.

“I wouldn’t eliminate it completely, but I wouldn’t put a fixed number on it that’s going to preclude the project from moving forward,” Councilman Tim Semrau said.

Obermeyer Place encompasses parcels owned by three individuals, including skiwear company founder Klaus Obermeyer, plus the city.

Use of city property and streets will require voter approval. The task force has been pushing to complete its proposal this month so the city can prepare a ballot question for November.

“I think the next time we would come back to the council, we would have a different recommendation from the COWOP that is not as massive as what’s on the board,” Belinski said. “We all look at the site and know there’s got to be a way to do this.”

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com]