Planned music school renovation on track
A proposed $55 million renovation to the shared Aspen Music Festival and School and Aspen Country Day School campus is on track. Crews could break ground as soon as the fall of 2008, school officials said.The Pitkin County Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday discussed the project for the fourth time since Aug. 14, and has raised issues ranging from stream setbacks and geological hazards to historic designation and height variances.School officials submitted a master plan that would call for rezoning the 23-acre Castle Creek campus from private to public educational use, as well as building 10 new structures. The project would double the square footage of the facility, according to county planner Suzanne Wolff.”Everything about our project is unique,” said AMFS President and CEO Alan Fletcher.Project planners asked for a minor code amendment to build summer practice rooms at the base of a slope county officials were concerned would be avalanche-prone. On Tuesday they asked for a variance for rehearsal buildings with roofs as high as 40 feet.”Please let us make these buildings right for the music,” said the project architect, Harry Teague, who designed both the Benedict Music Tent and Harris Hall at the downtown campus of the Aspen Music School, and said having proper building dimensions is crucial to good acoustics.The proposed change to educational zoning would relieve the project of the 28-foot height limit, and Teague likened the exemption to allowances for the steeple of a church or a grand government building.The next important decision for the project is the fate of two mining-era buildings and 1960s Fritz Benedict structures, planners said.Fletcher said school officials plan to preserve and renovate the historic administration building but added that the Benedict buildings on the site are “energy sinkholes” and not the right size for either school.Planners said they cannot provide affordable housing on the site but would pay an impact fee and agreed to have an outside group do an employee audit to see that both schools are fulfilling housing requirements.The commission will continue its examination of the project Oct. 9, and, pending approval, the application will go to the Pitkin County commissioners.Charles Agar’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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