Scaled-down Boomerang gets green light | AspenTimes.com

Scaled-down Boomerang gets green light

Abigail Eagye

The Aspen City Council on Monday night unanimously approved a scaled-down proposal to rejuvenate the Boomerang Lodge on West Hopkins Street. It was the third time the project had come before the council.The Boomerang’s redevelopment falls under the city’s lodge-incentive program, implemented to encourage a stable short-term bed base in the community.”It’s less ambitious than what is permitted in the lodge-incentive program,” said Sunny Vann, representing the applicant. “I believe it has the support of the majority of its neighbors. … Frankly, I’m not sure what else we can do.”Council members’ concerns at previous meetings were primarily with the height and mass of the project, as well as with plans to condominiumize the lodge rooms, which entails selling the rooms to individual owners. Owners’ use will be limited to 90 days per year, with a maximum of 30 consecutive days, to ensure that the rooms are available as short-term rentals.Councilman Jack Johnson was concerned that even though owners would have limited use, there is no guarantee that owners would rent the rooms on a short-term basis.Vann countered, however, that there is little reason for an owner to let the rooms sit empty. Anyone who could afford to do so likely would buy different property, he said.Steve Stunda, the Boomerang’s proprietor, took issue with Johnson’s suggestion that he doesn’t have a proven track record of running hotels. Stunda has been running the Boomerang for a year and a half and has operated hotels in other parts of the country.”We are a lodge. We will continue to operate as a lodge,” he declared emphatically. In the two weeks since the Boomerang proposal last came before council, the applicant eliminated a proposed third floor above the lodge’s historic east wing, as well as one free-market unit on the west end of the building.The overall height of the building was reduced as well, and the bulk of the building’s height and mass will be clustered at the center of the lot. The tallest portion of the building will be two four-story “pop-ups” at the center of the building, reaching 36.6 feet. The pop-ups compose only 17 percent of the roof area, however. The roof line drops incrementally to a 34.6-foot partial fourth floor, then to a 26.6-foot third floor and finally to approximately 23 feet with the existing east wing.It really does cut out a lot of the blockiness,” Councilwoman Rachel Richards said.The approved lodge sports an undulating exterior design to break up the mass of the building, and the tallest parts of the building are set back significantly from adjacent roads. The large trees on the south side of the lodge will be preserved as well to help shield the building from view.Stunda was amenable to the reductions, even though the original proposal met the city’s code requirements, with the exception of some setbacks.After earning approval from the council, Stunda said he didn’t think the council had asked too much. Rather, he characterized the revisions as a learning process.”I thought the real thrust of the [lodge incentive] ordinance was to add rooms to the bed base, but it turns out there were other things that were important,” he said.Abigail Eagye’s e-mail address is abby@aspentimes.com

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