Obermeyer wins OK, Klaus wins praise | AspenTimes.com

Obermeyer wins OK, Klaus wins praise

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

After heaping praise on ski-wear-icon-turned developer Klaus Obermeyer, the Aspen City Council gave his Obermeyer Place redevelopment project unanimous approval Monday.

“This whole thing truly is not possible without someone as fantastic as Klaus,” said Councilman Tom McCabe. “This is an incredible benefit to the community. Your willingness to do the right thing is just astonishing. I just don’t see many people like you and hip-hip-hooray.”

Obermeyer, the founder of Sport Obermeyer and the driving force behind the redevelopment plan, earned a hearty round of applause.

“It looks like it will be what we aimed for, and that’s a win-win-win-win situation,” Obermeyer said.

Developers plan to begin construction next spring, transforming a funky corner of Aspen into a new mix of residences, space for service/industrial businesses and medical offices.

An existing collection of buildings, including some dilapidated structures where many of Aspen’s service businesses remain, will be razed to make way for a new complex of buildings in the area bordered by East Bleeker Street, Spring Street and Rio Grande Place, south of Rio Grande Park. East Bleeker will be vacated for the project.

Two levels of underground parking, including 20 spaces designated for city use, are part of the plan. So is sprucing up the recycling center in the park and creating a pedestrian walkway through the development that will link Main Street and the park.

The project saw a year of review and revision by a city-appointed task force, working with a development team assembled by Obermeyer.

“It’s a handsome project,” said Councilman Tim Semrau. “I think it’ll be a great addition to the community.”

“You’re lucky to have a developer who would do this well on this site,” said Rich Wagar, local real estate broker.

“I like that somebody was willing to take the chances that they’re willing to do on this project,” added local resident Jim Pomeroy, voicing hope that it will lead others to take on “courageous” projects.

“Usually I’m a pessimist on all things, but I’m amazed at what happened,” added West End resident Bert Myrin. “It’s a great project.”

Obermeyer, the major landowner in the area, brought in two other property owners and the city, which owns some slivers of land in the rights of way, to come up with a joint plan that he hoped would be an improvement over what they could do individually.

Preserving the service/commercial/industrial uses that are currently there was his top priority. Businesses like a ski tuner, pet groomer, florist, auto repair shop and similar enterprises operate in the neighborhood.

Among the conditions the council placed on its approval is one that would eventually eliminate any businesses in Obermeyer Place that don’t comply with the service/commercial/industrial zoning, but operate as a conditional use. That conditional use should expire when the business’ current lease is up, the council decided.

Mittel Europa, an antiques and home furnishing business, operates as a conditional use with nine more years on its lease, the council was told.

In all, Obermeyer Place will include up to 265,000 square feet of space, including nearly 39,000 square feet for service/commercial/industrial uses; 21 free-market residences; 21 deed-restricted units and roughly 9,000 square feet of medical office space. Aspen Valley Hospital has an agreement with Obermeyer for a long-term lease of the office space with an option to purchase it.

The complex of five buildings includes one-, two- and three-story structures, but all will comply with the 35-foot height limit established by existing zoning, though some elements, like elevator shafts, will exceed that height, said architect Bob Schiller.

Obermeyer has committed to finding places for existing businesses to relocate temporarily during construction. The council is scheduled to address use of the former Zupancis property, the vacated former Aspen Youth Center and an area near the recycling center for some of those uses when it meets for a work session today.

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