Our kind of ‘preservation’
Dear Editor:In an ideal world, as we like to think of Aspen, we would really treasure this extraordinary history we have in Aspen. Most cities would kill to have our Victorian houses. Most people would preserve those houses in the location on the lot on which they were originally built, with no additions, no lot splits and no picking up the house to build a basement. The culture of those folks would encourage someone to buy the house, keep the original plaster walls, moldings, hardwood floors and windows, and be proud to LIVE in the house.Somehow, our preservation policies seem to encourage a much different result, and what we are getting is the purchase of the historic house by an investment partnership or limited liability company, an historic lot split, a destructive lifting of the house to build a large basement, the gift from the city of free 500 square feet of floor area ratio (which is worth a fortune at today’s prices), the relocation of the house to a half lot, the gutting of the interior walls, hardwood floors and windows, the construction of a modern house on the other half lot next to the remaining exterior shell of the historic house, and the sale of both houses at huge profits to second homeowners who use the houses two weeks a year or so. Is this preservation or a new “cottage” industry?The preservation policies of lot splits, relocation of the house with new basement underneath and the gift of 500 square feet of floor area ratio must have been reasonable when enacted, but they are no longer in the best interest of the public. We should no longer lessen the historic value of our remaining treasures in favor of mercenary developers and even locals or their heirs whose main interest is a big payday. We should not be encouraging construction when we have all the noise, pollution, and traffic congestion we can stand. We should not encourage houses that people have lived in and can live in for years to come to be transformed into trophy houses which are unused most of the year, because it represents the loss of our most valuable asset – community.Joe MyersAspen
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