Preservation, development coming to West End corner
The familiar, bright blue Victorian house with the expansive yard at the corner of Bleeker and Monarch streets would be restored to its former glory as part of a development plan its new owners put forward.The 15,000-square-foot West End parcel, behind the Hotel Jerome, is the subject of a subdivision application before the city that would split off 6,000 square feet behind the house for a new building that could contain residential or commercial uses, or a mixture of both.Blu Vic LCC purchased the house in August for $4.9 million, according to documents filed with the Pitkin County clerk and recorder. Tim Semrau, former city councilman and a developer, is the managing partner for Blu Vic.The house, identified as the John B. Wardell residence in an 1892 photograph maintained by the Aspen Historical Society, was a far more ornate structure than what exists today. A second-floor, front balcony with a decorative railing is among the elements that have been removed over the years. Semrau said he plans to restore the house to the form in the historic photograph.
“We want to make it a signature restoration project,” he said.No proposal to develop the lot behind the house, adjacent to the Jerome Professional Building at the corner of Bleeker and Mill streets, has yet been submitted. But the mixed-use zoning on the parcel would allow restaurant, retail, lodging or neighborhood commercial operations, among other things. A combination of residential and commercial uses is also permitted.”I’m not quite sure what we’re going to do there,” Semrau said.The subdivision application also proposes the paving of 105 feet of alleyway, which has been platted but was never built, along the north side of the property, off Monarch Street.
The 9,000-square-foot parcel that will remain in front, containing the historic house, is large enough to permit a second house on the lot, which could be condominiumized and sold. That decision has not yet been made, Semrau said.As for the 2,012-square-foot blue Victorian, Semrau said he wouldn’t mind residing in the restored house himself.”Actually, I’d love to be able to live there, if I could possibly afford it,” he said.The corner property could wind up seeing considerable change, but it may be the alleyway that neighbors find most objectionable.
A shed on the parcel, reportedly a chicken coop at one point, can be demolished to make way for the alley. The Historic Preservation Commission recently agreed that the shed is not a historic building and is not protected.”It’s not so much the commercial building, but the opening of an alley in a residential block that has some integrity to it – that’s my biggest concern,” said Bert Myrin, who owns a home two doors down on Monarch.There is currently a driveway off Bleeker, behind the house, but the city requires access off an alleyway when it’s feasible, Semrau said.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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RFTA has a bit of a paradox on its hands. The public bus agency doesn’t anticipate it will haul as many passengers this winter but it needs more buses and drivers than ever. Only 15 people are allowed per bus, so that saps resources.