Obermeyer Place fast becoming a reality
September 1, 2006
Two years after a funky corner of Aspen was bulldozed to make way for an ambitious redevelopment spearheaded by a local skiwear magnate, Obermeyer Place is home to its first residents.About half the 44 residences there – a mix of free-market and employee condos – have been sold, and all but a couple of the worker units are under contract. Businesses that relocated, with the promise of new space in a project that was nothing more than architectural sketches at the time, are poised to return this fall.As construction crews put the final touches on the five buildings that make up the multiuse complex, the $70 million vision of Sport Obermeyer founder Klaus Obermeyer is becoming a reality. Obermeyer owned most of the buildings that were torn down to make way for the project.Already, residents are moving in and setting up barbecue grills on their patios in the first completed buildings. The interior, pedestrian corridors are being landscaped, and the neighborhood restaurant, with the deck overlooking Rio Grande Park, is nearly ready for an operator. One has been selected, but the deal isn’t quite final, according to Tim Belinski, vice president of finance for Sport Obermeyer and the company representative who helped shepherd the project through the approval process.”We’re seeing people living there now – lawn furniture out on decks,” he said. “It’s got some nice vibrancy to it.”While all of the buildings are up, interior work continues on most of them, and men in hardhats scurry about the place.
The pending completion of Obermeyer Place represents a milestone of sorts. The project was the first major one in Aspen to go through the city’s so-called COWOP process, in which a task force of government officials, citizens, affected property owners and neighbors had a role in overseeing its design. In a sometimes frustrating process, the project went back to the proverbial drawing board time and time again before the plans gained a consensus of support.
The trick from the get-go was creating new commercial buildings to replace the structures that were razed, but keep the new space affordable for local-serving businesses. The area is zoned service-commercial-industrial, where only certain uses are permitted. A gym, pet groomer, auto-repair place, glass shop, ski tuner and other such businesses ran their operations out of the funky collection of buildings that once existed there.The residential component of the project was proposed to help offset the cost of the low-cost commercial space. A hotel project in town ultimately helped bring down the price some employees paid for their Obermeyer Place units by helping subsidize the housing in order to fulfill some of its own housing requirements.Obermeyer Place, bounded by Spring Street and Rio Grande Place, across from the park, includes 22 free-market condos that were presold in a day when they were offered two years ago, for prices ranging from $1.4 million to $3.9 million. In today’s hot real estate market, they’ve increased some 30 percent in value, Belinski said.
The 22 worker units will house a handful of Sport Obermeyer employees, several individuals who will work at Obermeyer Place businesses and other qualified workers chosen by the developers. Obermeyer had a list of locals interested in the units.”We had more than plenty of interest in all the residences,” Belinski said.About 95 percent of the 40,000 square feet of commercial space has been allotted to 18 businesses, including seven that left the site when construction began and four others that will come from other sites in Aspen. Two stories of underground parking serve both businesses and residents.
The businesses will have the option to purchase their space, or lease it. Expect an open house-style event when more of Obermeyer Place is occupied, Belinski said.”It’s intended to be very public,” he said. “We want people to feel welcome to walk the neighborhood.”Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org