Seasonal housing takes step forward
The Burlingame seasonal housing project is perhaps a half-step closer to reality today, but only barely.The Aspen City Council came very close to denying conceptual approval for the project on Monday night, based primarily on objections to the design of the 50-room complex.But Mayor John Bennett cautioned the council against delaying the project, saying only half-jokingly that he wanted to avoid “another headline in tomorrow’s papers, `Council dithers again, another project delayed'” – a reference to recent delays in a number of government-sponsored affordable housing projects.So the council voted to approve the use of the land for a 200-bed seasonal housing project, but directed the Music Associates of Aspen and its planning team to work with the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission as well as the City Council to come up with an acceptable design.The P&Z also had previously given its conceptual approval for the project, but ordered the applicants to do more work on the design of the complex.The main sore spot for city officials is apparently that the project designers, including architect Harry Teague and project planner Jim Curtis, put an 80-space parking lot in the center of a ring of apartment buildings.”This, to me, is the classic Aurora solution to apartment design,” sneered Bennett. “It looks like something in Denver.” Bennett also objected to the architecture of the buildings.The project is being proposed for a small portion of the Burlingame Ranch property, purchased by the city in 1996 for affordable housing, located just east of the Aspen Airport Business Center.As currently envisioned, the seasonal housing is a joint project of the Music Associates of Aspen and the Aspen Skiing Co., which is to house some 200 music students in the summers and 200 seasonal workers in the winters. Some of the beds would be dedicated to Roaring Fork Transit Agency drivers in the winters, with the rest going to Skico workers.The project is being designed with fewer parking spaces than required by city codes, as an “auto disincentive” for the residents.All five of the council members said Monday night that they preferred an earlier design proposal, withdrawn by the applicants, that had 69 three-bedroom units, with 203 beds. It also called for the 80 parking spaces to be arrayed along the western edge of the complex, between the apartment buildings and a berm separating the complex from Highway 82, and for a grass- and tree-filled courtyard in the center of the surrounding apartment buildings.A new design has cut the number of apartments to 50 four-bedroom units, and the number of beds to 200, and puts the parking lot in the middle of the ring of buildings. An effort by architect Harry Teague to attach small green “courtyards” to each building failed to impress the council.”It’s obvious that we have to go back to the drawing board,” said Curtis after hearing the council’s objections. He said the older plan would cost $2.75 million more to build than the new plan, although he did not give a cost projection for the newer plan.After the hearing before the council, Curtis said he probably will cancel a scheduled work session with the P&Z, while he and his project team work on revising the plans to deal with the various objections and suggestions on how the project might be improved.In other action Monday, the council: Annexed roughly 200 acres of the Burlingame Ranch land. Gave final approval to an amendment to the sign code, providing for small signs affixed to the exterior walls of homes announcing the presence of a security system. Annexed and rezoned the property known as the Red House, on Hallam Street next to the Castle Creek Bridge. The five-unit house is now in the process of being sold as affordable housing condominiums.
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