Owners continue tweaking Hotel Aspen proposal
The Aspen Times
Hotel Aspen’s application to demolish and renovate its Main Street lodge is still on the table, as the owners are continuing to work with architects to deliver yet another proposal to the Aspen City Council.
Monday’s four-hour discussion on the proposal ended with a two-week continuance and a divided council. Councilmen Dwayne Romero and Adam Frisch wanted to approve the project as is, while Mayor Steve Skadron and council member Art Daily agreed with concerned neighbors that the renovation is not compatible with the nearby West End neighborhood. Councilwoman Ann Mullins recused herself because she previously reviewed the application as a member of the Historic Preservation Commission.
On a lot that allows 27,000 square feet of maximum cumulative floor area, the applicant is requesting 36,500 square feet. If the proposal is granted special review, it will boost the allowable space to 33,750 square feet. The remodel would increase the number of lodge units from 45 to 54 with an average unit size of 300 square feet.
An aspect of the project that has been hotly debated is the three 5,000-square-foot free-market residences that the applicant says are needed to make the renovation economically feasible.
On Monday, Skadron warned against the dangers of speculative development damaging Aspen’s small-town character, saying he has seen it “time and time again.” Frisch, on the other hand, has said that Hotel Aspen’s proposal is something the community needs to buy into if it wants to retain mid-priced lodging.
Daily said he would support the project if the applicant knocked the third story off its three free-market structures, something owners Aaron and Michael Brown said is not financially possible. Michael Brown said the only alternative is to build a smaller lodge with two single-family homes beside it, which he said is even worse for the community.
Stan Clauson, a representative for the Browns, said the project might need further continuance, as two weeks is not a lot of time to provide all materials to city planners. He said he hopes to submit an application that will please neighbors and, more importantly, the majority of the council.
“Maybe you can’t please everybody, and the people you’re ultimately trying to please are the council, who’s charged with recognizing that they put these incentives in place for a specific reason, and that is to encourage development of small lodges,” he said.
Bert Myrin, a Planning and Zoning Committee member who has advocated for slower and smaller growth in the past, said the city code is in place for a reason: to ensure compatibility in Aspen’s neighborhoods. He said the applicant is asking for variances well beyond reason.
“They want to move the goalposts,” he said.
Clauson said his clients appreciated Bendon’s suggestion and that the architects are working “to see what can be done with respect to changes.”
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