Park Place lite in Aspen?
Thwarted parking garage developer Peter Fornell is willing to settle for a lot – or a little – while his controversial project remains mired in court.The Aspen City Council rejected plans for a 99-space, automated parking garage late last year; now Fornell is seeking approval of a 19-space, gated surface lot at 707 E. Hyman Ave., next to the Benedict Commons affordable housing.Fornell represents property owner Hyman Avenue Holdings LLC, which wants to rent spaces on the vacant lot by the day or the month. The proposal will go before the Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday.Meanwhile, Hyman Avenue Holdings is suing the city for refusing to put the Park Place garage project to a public vote. The surface lot is an interim plan, Fornell said.The lot, where an A-frame building was demolished earlier this year, is already functioning as a parking lot for the adjacent Hannah-Dustin office building.The proposal to convert it to paid parking, however, has met with criticism from the city’s planning staff, which has recommended the P&Z reject the latest Park Place application as it’s currently proposed.The staff had supported the garage project, though it was panned by neighbors and rejected by the council on a 3-2 vote.Fornell was incredulous Friday that city staffers would recommend denial of the latest plan, since underground parking spaces at Benedict Commons, the city housing project next door, are offered for public rental.”They’re not going to let me do what they’re doing next door?” he said.According to a memo by city planner James Lindt, “staff does not believe that this application will provide for a considerable amount of community benefit given that there are only 19 total parking spaces proposed.”The staff has also recommended that, if the lot is approved, the property owners give up the curb cut that allows access to the site off Hyman Avenue and instead have vehicles enter and exit off the alley.Staffers also suggested the lot be treated with an environmentally friendly dust-control agent once a year in the spring.In addition, they noted the plan for a wrought-iron chain fence surrounding the lot violates the city’s prohibition against chain-link fences. The code requires fences that are visible from public rights of way to be constructed of wood, stone, wrought iron or masonry.Landscaping is also proposed along the lot’s borders.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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Mario Ruiz came to Aspen Highlands from Bariloche through the ski patrol exchange as part of the Sister Cities program last winter. He quickly ingrained himself with the Highlands patrol. Ruiz was killed July 27 in an avalanche while working at his home ski area. The Highlands patrol is raising funds for his family.