Power Plant not subject to more bids
The Aspen Times
Organizers behind the Aspen Power Plant proposal for the Old Power House will not be subject to competition from the rest of the private sector, according to a city official.
The question was raised Monday, when Power Plant applicants Aspen Brewing Co. and Aspen 82 won Aspen City Council support to begin negotiating for the Mill Street space. During the hearing, council members asked if the city should reopen the process to further bidding from the private sector.
After reviewing the city’s application guidelines Tuesday, City Attorney Jim True said there were no specific limitations — concerning private uses for the space — in the city’s request for proposals or request for qualifications. This means that other for-profit parties already had the opportunity to apply for the space.
“There was no limitation, and these guys realized it and applied and got through,” True said Tuesday.
The question was less about legal concern than it was a question of fairness, True said. Based on the fact that there were no limitations listed in the application process, the entire private sector has had a fair shot.
If negotiations are successful, the applicant plans to repurpose the 7,200-square-foot building into a mixed-use structure containing a biergarten, restaurant, TV studio and event space on the ground floor and incubator workspace above.
In November, a resident-led advisory committee delivered a list of four recommended finalists for the space that did not include the Aspen Power Plant. The panel was made up by residents Robin Hamill, Kathryn Koch, Catherine Lutz and Pete Louras, as well as city employees Chris Bendon, Barry Crook and Jeff Woods. The Aspen Science Center, the Red Brick’s Powerhouse Performance and Event Center, GrassRoots TV’s Aspen Media Powerhouse and the John Denver Museum and Cultural Center made up the list of recommendations.
Council took that list, axed the John Denver concept and added the Power Plant as well as resident Paul Kienast’s the Gathering Place. Mayor Steve Skadron championed the latter two, saying he was witness to the success Aspen Brewing Co. had during a Fourth of July party at the Old Power House.
On Monday, the Power Plant beat out the Science Center, the Red Brick, GrassRoots TV and Kienast.
There are still a number of details the city must iron out before signing an agreement. For one, the building sits in a residential-zone district. The Aspen Art Museum was a non-conforming use while in the space, and the Power Plant would have the same issue. True said that staff will most likely recommend a rezoning, which would be subject to a public hearing.
City planner Justin Barker said the planning office has begun exploring what changes, if any, would be appropriate so that the proposed uses conform.
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