P&Z: No commercial space, more units in housing plan | AspenTimes.com

P&Z: No commercial space, more units in housing plan

Add units, cut back on parking and eliminate the commercial space.That, in a nutshell, was the what the Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission had to say Tuesday about a proposed affordable housing project at the corner of Seventh and Main streets.But before the Housing Authority submits a formal conceptual plan for the project, a final round of input will be sought.The city P&Z reviewed the plans yesterday in a joint work session with members of the Historic Preservation Commission. Additional sessions involving the Housing Board, neighboring residents and the City Council are yet to come.The architectural firm Studio B, in partnership with the Housing Authority, presented two possible plans for the site Tuesday. They differed in density, parking and the presence of commercial space.One alternative calls for 12 units, a commercial component, and parking for less than half of the project’s residents. A second proposal includes nine units, nine parking spaces, and no commercial space.A majority of P&Z members and the handful of HPC members on hand yesterday agreed that, in light of the demand for affordable housing, parking should be sacrificed for greater density. There was also a general consensus that gabled roofs, as opposed to flat roofs, should be pursued in order to better complement the neighborhood.The proposed commercial space – for possibly a coffee shop or small convenience store – received an advisory thumbs down from the P&Z.”I think adding commercial is opening a huge can of worms,” said P&Z member Jasmine Tygre. “We’ve been hearing for years about the need for more locals restaurants and then you end up with a Mezzaluna. No matter how it’s worded, people always get around it.”Only three of the 10 HPC board members were in attendance, but they voiced support for a locally-oriented business venture in the complex.Suzannah Reid, chairwoman of the HPC, suggested a small convenience store would be a community hub and also a public service to the neighborhood.”I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to myself, I could make this dinner if only I had an egg,” Reid said. “I don’t think the presence of a small store would take away from visits downtown.”But P&Z member Ron Erickson countered that master planning of the business core was done to prevent development of a commercial node in a residential area like the Seventh and Main site.”It would be suburban sprawl,” Erickson said. “We want to encourage people to use the core. I don’t think we want to make it convenient to stay out.”

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