P&Z takes air out of Sky Hotel plan | AspenTimes.com

P&Z takes air out of Sky Hotel plan

Kimberly Nicoletti

Developer Sunny Vann accused city planners of changing the rules on him Tuesday when they didn’t approve redevelopment of the Sky Hotel.”[If] you don’t like the rules, you go out and change the rules,” Vann said after Aspen planning and zoning commissioners complained that the proposal more than doubled the square footage of the building to 103,000 but kept the same number of lodging rooms at 90.The six commissioners shot down the redevelopment of the Sky Hotel with a 3-3 vote. Though staff determined the applicant, Aspen Club Properties, had met all of the requirements under new lodge incentive codes, commissioners questioned whether the plan met the criteria of creating a “welcoming experience” the Aspen Area Community Plan calls for.Neighbors didn’t support the project; they didn’t want a 42-foot-tall hotel darkening their days and blocking views in their front yards.The Sky Hotel project would hurt Chateau Chaumont, chateau unit owner Todd Vieregg wrote to the commissioners. “And it is unfair to enhance the rentability and value of the 90 Sky Hotel bedrooms by decreasing the rentability and value of the [chateaus],” Vieregg wrote.Commissioner Steve Skadron said he voted against the project because of one main concern: the impact on neighbors.”I think my job as a commissioner is to find that an application does essentially, or ultimately, support this harmonious development,” Skadron said.The Sky Hotel project was the first to come under review after the new codes took effect, and developers designed the project specifically with the new criteria in mind, Vann said.”It was done because we realized we were the poster child for the new regulations,” Vann said.But following the rules to the letter didn’t stop commissioners from grappling with unexpected consequences of the new codes. The City Council passed the new codes with an intention to revitalize rundown hotels, Commissioner Ruth Kruger said. She supported the project but not without misgivings.”I don’t see that I have a lot of choice [but to approve it],” she said. “But it’s a shame that you’re doubling the size of the building and not adding lodging rooms. I just find that a travesty.”Chris Bendon, community development director, said a redevelopment under new codes could be larger but actually end up with fewer units, as long as the plan calls for a minimum of one lodge unit per 500 square feet and the units average 500 square feet or less. Kruger suggested the commissioners re-examine the new codes.In the meantime, the developers must decide whether to appeal the commissioners’ decision to the City Council. Cheryl Jones, the Sky Hotel’s director of hospitality investments, said she was surprised at the denial. She said she didn’t know if there would be an appeal.Kimberly Nicoletti’s e-mail address is knicoletti@aspentimes.com

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