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Sixteen appeal historical listings

Janet Urquhart

Sixteen property owners, including a pair of lodge owners and a restaurateur, have asked to have their buildings removed from Aspen’s list of historic properties.

The Historic Preservation Commission will begin a series of hearings next month to hear each of the appeals, starting with the two lodges – the Holland House Ski Lodge and Snow Queen Lodge – on Jan. 24. A home on Williams Way is also scheduled for review that night.

All of the 16 properties are among 107 properties on the HPC’s existing inventory of historic resources. In addition, some 150 properties have the further designation of landmark status.

La Cocina owner Nick Lebby is appealing the historic designation on his restaurant, though it would remain within the HPC’s scope since it lies within the downtown historic district, according to Julie Ann Woods, the city’s head planner.

With the HPC’s review of its inventory, which is supposed to occur every five years, property owners have an opportunity to appeal their listing.

Holland House co-owner Jack Simmons said he fears the designation will interfere with his family’s plans to expand their 20-unit lodge.

“We’re a hotel. We’d like to continue to be a hotel and not a historic relic that we can’t do anything to,” he said. “The incentives the HPC seems to have might not be the dream that the property owner has.

“We’d really like to be able to put on some more units,” Simmons continued. “We’re turning people away.”

The oldest section of the Holland House is nearly 50 years old. The newer units were built in 1963. The Snow Queen, a quaint Victorian establishment with seven units, is considerably older. The original parts of the building date back to 1885, said owner Norma Dolle.

Dolle sees no benefit to the listing, just restrictions that come with HPC overview of exterior changes. The Snow Queen was able to expand, despite the listing, she said, but not in the manner that she’d hoped.

“They never gave any incentives for keeping it historic,” she said. “It’s just really hard if you want to add on.”

Simmons said he was surprised to discover the Holland House had been listed. The HPC informed him of the designation when he tried to replace windows in the lodge several years ago.

Though Simmons and his wife, Yasmine Depagter, received a notice when the property was being considered for historic designation, Simmons admits they ignored it, figuring the lodge didn’t meet the criteria.

“It kind of upset the whole family that it had been done without the input of the property owner,” he said. “Nobody has ever talked to us about this. Nobody really cares.”

But Woods said she is open to talking with any owner of a historic property and is spending plenty of time doing so these days.

The HPC’s recent effort to expand its list of historic properties has been halted for the time being, and city staffers are now meeting one-on-one with affected property owners. The results are encouraging, according to Woods.

Staffers are explaining the restrictions that come with the designation, as well as what redevelopment options might exist on individual properties, she said.

Simmons isn’t optimistic that the Holland House will be de-listed, and he wonders what the impact of living with the designation will be 20 years from now.

“Is it taking me out of the new market? Is it making me less competitive? I don’t really know,” he said. “I don’t think anybody knows the answers to those questions.”


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