Officials hope to have one Aspen City Hall design by June |

Officials hope to have one Aspen City Hall design by June

Karl Herchenroeder
The Aspen Times

Officials are hoping to narrow two designs associated with plans for about 50,000 square feet of downtown office and City Hall space needs down to one in about a month.

The Aspen City Council is expected to address the space-needs project during a meeting in mid-June, when officials will weigh two conceptual design options. Both plans are in the $37 million to $40 million price range.

The first option calls for a City Hall expansion and the construction of a new 30,000- to 40,000-square-foot building at 540 E. Main St. A new police station would occupy about half of the new space, while the city plans to repurpose the Rio Grande and Galena Plaza buildings.

The second option would see the Rio Grande and Galena Plaza buildings expanded into a new City Hall and a new Police Department built at 540 E. Main St. or nearby on Mill Street. This option would include about 40,000 to 50,000 square feet of new space for city offices and 16,000 square feet for the new police facility.

Project manager Jack Wheeler said Monday that the next round of public outreach will occur after the council’s June meeting. He said he’s hoping for a decision on one of the two options, while Councilman Adam Frisch said Monday that he’s planning for a similar timeline.

In June, the city will welcome a new member onto the council, as Mick Ireland and Bert Myrin are vying for the seat in a June 2 runoff. Frisch said Monday that a new member could change the dialogue of whether the city wants to vacate City Hall altogether and return it to community use. That would require additional finances as well as more office space for municipal operation. City Hall is about 19,000 square feet.

“I think by the time we get going, the majority of the community will understand that we have a serious space need,” Frisch said. “The question is: How small and humble can the new building be?”

Frisch said that based on community feedback, the idea is to protect the historic size and design of City Hall. His opinion is that a major overhaul at City Hall would not be successful, though he voiced support for a “humble, organic” addition to the armory in November.

“Minimally I don’t envision an expansion or annex on the armory space. I think that would not be good,” Frisch said.

He added that he would not like to see a major municipal building built on Main Street either, which is in line with comments Mayor Steve Skadron has made in the past. In November the mayor said he is not inclined to see a 60,000-square-foot “monument” built. If the decision is for a new Main Street building, Frisch said it should be incorporated into a civic center with the Pitkin County Library, the courthouse and City Hall.