Preliminary work to begin on downtown Aspen malls

Pedestrians stroll Hyman Avenue Mall last week. The city of Aspen will spend $350,922 on a Florida-based firm that will aid it in upgrading the infrastructure of the downtown malls.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times |

The city of Aspen will spend $350,922 on a Florida-based firm that will aid it in upgrading the infrastructure of the downtown malls.

The City Council on Monday approved the enlistment of NV5 Inc., a consultant firm that specializes in infrastructure and construction projects. Its public sector work includes such clients as the Pentagon and Chicago O’Hare International Airport, according to the company website.

While the downtown mall project is significantly smaller in scale, it is critical to get it done, city officials have said.

The brick-laden malls — on parts of Cooper and Hyman avenues and Mill Street — are 42 years old and include some of Aspen’s most frequented bars, restaurants and retailers.

But the aging underground infrastructure is nearing its end, city officials have said. Much of the subground utility work predates 1973, when the mall was built.

“We need to figure out what we really have underneath this mall,” Tim Johnson, a city project manager, told council members Monday.

In city speak, NV5 Inc.’s official role will be “construction manager as advisor” for the project’s first two of five phases, inventory/analysis and conceptual planning, which will start this year and finish in 2017.

The third phases — design, final design and construction — are slated to begin in 2018 and run through 2020, according to a memo from Johnson to the council. “Preliminary analysis by utilities and engineering staff indicate that water, electric, sanitary sewer utilities all are in dire need for replacement to meet the needs of the community and match the design lifecycle of new mall infrastructure,” the memo said.

The entire project will encompass three blocks and approximately 123,000 square feet of the pedestrian malls, alleys and street approaches.

The historic feel of the malls and their “rich pedestrian character has to be retained.” That’s according to the city’s request for proposals that ultimately landed NV5 Inc.

“After being in place for 42 years, the downtown pedestrian mall has become an iconic landscape in Aspen,” the request said. “Bustling with activity that includes a playground, outdoor dining, movable tables and chairs, children playing in the gurgling streams, an outdoor fire hearth and a pioneering animated water fountain, the mall is the heart of downtown Aspen.”

During the first two phases, NV5 Inc. will handle budget control, scheduling, contract control, project oversight, project reporting, cost estimating and value engineering, according to the city’s request for proposals for the job.

The city solicited bids from June through August.