Parking garage petitions gather momentum
Aspen Times Staff Writer
A petition drive to put a proposed parking garage before Aspen voters is more than halfway to its goal, according to developer Peter Fornell.
He began collecting signatures to put the Hyman Avenue garage, dubbed Park Place, to voters in a special election after the City Council rejected the project last month.
“Overwhelming, I find that people support the idea,” Fornell said. “I’m not coming across any opposition to the concept or the proposal.
“I’m having a very easy time. People are receptive to signing the initiative petition.”
Fornell has placed the petitions at a few locations around town, but is collecting most of the signatures himself. He estimates he has about 400 signatures so far.
He needs 736 signatures ” 15 percent of the city’s registered voters ” to put Ordinance 58 on a ballot. That’s the legislation the council voted 3-2 to reject, denying the Park Place application.
If Fornell collects enough signatures, the council can either adopt the ordinance or put the matter before voters.
It’s Fornell’s expectation that the council will reconsider its decision and reach some sort of compromise that allows developer Hyman Avenue Holdings LLC to proceed with the project. Fornell is a local real estate broker representing the company.
The developers had proposed a $6 million, 99-space parking garage with an automated system to load and retrieve vehicles from cubby hole-style spaces spread over seven levels. Two affordable housing units and a small office to run the garage are part of the project.
All but 19 of the spaces were to be made available for sale to individual buyers for $100,000 to $125,000 per space. The spaces would be available for use by the general public when owners weren’t using them.
During the council’s review, Fornell offered to eliminate the top floor of the garage, reducing the building’s height from 35 to 26 feet and cutting nine parking spaces.
The investors are also prepared to forego the condominiumization of the garage and the sale of its spaces and instead operate a standard public parking garage, he said.
Fornell said he has been advised that he can put an amended plan, which reflects those changes to the original application, before voters.
At a public hearing last month, neighbors of the project objected to the operation in their residential neighborhood.
Some neighbors predicted congestion and queued vehicles in the street, waiting to access the garage. Others complained the garage is simply a big-city operation that doesn’t fit Aspen’s character.
Supporters of the project praised it as a technological marvel that would help ease Aspen’s on-street parking crunch.
Park Place would occupy a 6,000-square-foot parcel at 707 E. Hyman Ave., next to the Benedict Commons affordable housing. An A-frame building containing offices and some surface parking exists there now.
[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]
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