Old Powerhouse, Armory options aired | AspenTimes.com

Old Powerhouse, Armory options aired

The Old Powerhouse and the old Armory oftentimes become intertwined. This is because both buildings have proposals to house city of Aspen offices and community spaces.

On Monday night, the City Council listened to ideas for each old building. However, nothing laid out what the community space would actually entail — only aspirations and gathered community comment.

The council members did unanimously agree to a “somewhere in the middle’ remodel of the Armory. This plan, with an estimated cost of $18 million to $23 million, would need to better address what the community space needs would be upon further outreach.

And while the council also unanimously agreed to use the Old Powerhouse for city offices and having the Armory available for much-needed public space, there will ultimately be more discussion on how the public space will look, feel, and operate.

City Council members said they need more clarification and research on both projects.


The council heard two options for the Old Powerhouse.

“The first option includes transforming the lower level into a community space and housing offices on the second floor. The second option would transform the entire building into office space,” said Evan Pletcher, city capital asset director.

Option 1

“Option 1 is the public space option. It’s a reconfiguration. That includes a large community room, catering kitchen storage area, the bathrooms change position in order to accommodate today’s code requirements. And the occupancy levels for a large community space workshop loses some space, but it still meets our needs,” he said.

Additional elements of option 1 include creating a public gathering space at the Old Powerhouse, creating a new opening in the south gable end wall for a glazed operable door that permits direct circulation between the community room and the landscape. There would be landscape improvements with this option to enhance the community use of the building.

In addition to the catering kitchen and public-storage areas, there would be a new added shed dormer to the east side of the building to improve lighting, functionality, and ventilation in the upper-level workspaces.

In Option 1, historic masonry would be exposed within interior community spaces.

Pletcher listed the following items that would be of benefit to the community with option 1, including more public-use space and possibilities of relieving pressure for meeting spaces in the Armory:

  • Activating the lawn space and showcasing a historic building would be for community enjoyment.
  • The functionality of the upstairs office would be maximized with the addition of a dormer. The downstairs workspace would meet staff needs.
  • The Main Street Cabin could then be vacated by city staff and redeveloped as employee housing.

With this option, the council could explore the possibilities of moving Sister Cities to the Old Powerhouse and free up existing City Hall space for other uses.

The cons of the project would be that the utility, building, IT, and transportation departments would have to remain in the Armory or another location. This option also would be more expensive than option 2, labeled the Office Space Option.

Option 2

Option 2 would use the entire facility as city staff office, workshop, and storage space. In this scenario, the special events, IT, and capital asset departments would occupy the Old Powerhouse. In addition, the large conference room and flex office/meeting area would be available for city use on the lower level.

Additional programming for option 2 would include creation of a secure storage and a new kitchenette. This plan would add a new shed dormer to the east side of the building to improve lighting, functionality, and ventilation in the upper-level workspaces.

There would also be landscape improvements to aid in activating the outdoor spaces.

Plethcer listed the pros for this option as creation of city office space, which would provide vacancy of the Main Street Cabin by city staff to be redeveloped as employee housing.

He noted the Armory would then be fully vacated by city staff.

The upstairs office space would be maximized with the addition of the dormer. And, bottom line, option 2 would cost less than option 1.

Cons of this proposal include the lack of available space for the public, and it might be challenging activating the lawn space.

With both options, the following scopes of work would remain the same. Currently, the interior scope of work includes creating better accessibility throughout the facility by adding an elevator and ADA-compliant bathrooms.

There’s proposed structural roof-framing upgrades, enclosing the porch at the parking lot, and maximizing the shop attic storage. New mechanical and electrical systems would be implemented. A replacement of the interior sewer line would occur and envelope improvements.

The proposed exterior scope for the Old Powerhouse includes masonry preservation, new roof system, waterproofing, and thermal improvements. There would be replacement of non-historic windows and historic wood-window refurbishment. Selected tree removal and replacement of an exterior sewer line would occur, and the parking lot would be resurfaced.


The proposed remodel plan and use plan of the Armory was presented by Jen Phelan, the city’s development manager.

Aspen City Council will decide how to remodel the former City Hall, or armory building, downtown.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

Previously, the Armory housed the IT, utility billing, and clerks departments. It was also used as a temporary relocation of special events and asset management departments for remodel of the Main Street Cabin and Old Powerhouse.

Currently, the interim use of building includes the Aspen Chamber Resort Association and city offices using or anticipated on the ground floor and second story. This is also a temporary relocation of city departments impacted by Main Street Cabin and Old Powerhouse remodels on the third floor.