Parking garage officials seek the green light from council
Park Place, a proposed Hyman Avenue parking garage that has generated opposition among its residential neighbors, goes before the Aspen City Council tonight.The council is scheduled to hold its first public hearing on the proposal and could give it the final go-ahead.Hyman Avenue Holdings, LLC is seeking approval to construct a 99-space commercial parking garage, along with an office and two affordable housing units at 707 E. Hyman Ave. The 12,000-square-foot parcel, next to the Benedict Commons housing complex, currently holds an A-frame building.The garage would employ a completely automated system that will move vehicles to and from spaces within the building. The developers have proposed condominiumizing the garage and selling spaces to individual buyers who may use them or rent them out to the general public. Nineteen spaces would be permanently reserved for public use.The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission has urged the city to reject the proposal, on a 4-3 vote, while city staffers have recommended its approval.Public parking is necessary for the success of the downtown shopping district, according to a staff memo to the council. The proposed garage would relieve some of the demand for on-street parking, valet parking and the city’s Rio Grande parking garage.The garage would add to the city’s parking inventory and provide some relief to motorists who circle downtown streets at busy times to look for a space, the staff concluded.Neighbors at the P&Z’s public hearings voiced concerns about noise, the potential for a lineup of vehicles waiting to get into the garage and pollution from idling autos.The proposal calls for two bays that can hold up to four queued vehicles each, and the automated system can park a car in about 90 seconds, according to the applicants.But Jasmine Tygre, P&Z chairwoman, said she voted against the development out of concerns about queued vehicles blocking the street. The 90-second cycle is workable, she said, but the reality is, day skiers will spend five minutes getting out their gear, putting on their ski boots, etc., she reasoned.”I think it’s a good location to have some kind of parking facility,” she said. “I think it would really be a boon for the businesses that are nearby and for day-skier parking … but the 90-second turnaround doesn’t take into account the way people behave.”If they could solve that, I think it would be really cool.”P&Z member Jack Johnson, who voted in favor of the proposal, said he couldn’t buy the neighbors’ objections to a garage in that location. The area is zoned for office use, he noted.”Given the criteria upon which we have to base our votes, I couldn’t not vote for it,” he said. “It’s not zoned residential, which we couldn’t seem to get through the heads of the people who were complaining.”Its high-tech automation is also appealing, Johnson added.”As parking garages go, it’s a good one,” he said.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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