Ski Haus plan is OK’d |

Ski Haus plan is OK’d

Brent Gardner-Smith

The Little Red Ski Haus won approval Monday for an extensive renovation under the city of Aspen’s Lodge Preservation District.

The zoning regulations were designed to encourage the dwindling number of ski lodges in Aspen to stay in business instead of turning into multimillion-dollar townhomes.

One way the zoning does that is by waiving the city’s employee housing requirements.

And in the case of the Little Red Ski Haus, the regulations may have done that, but the lodge on East Cooper Avenue will not be quite the same as it was throughout its almost 40-year history as a ski lodge.

The Ski Haus once offered guests 22 dormitory-style rooms with bathrooms down the hall. It made for an inexpensive and social place for skiers to stay in Aspen.

But when Marge Babcock, who had operated the lodge since 1962, decided to sell, it almost went the way of many other small lodges in Aspen.

Except that Babcock was determined to find a buyer who wanted to keep the Ski Haus as a lodge.

The house, which was built in 1880, is a historically designated property.

Late last year, a group of investors led by Chicago attorney David Fiore purchased the property and were given a temporary use permit to run it as a lodge for the winter.

Last night, the group was given final approval by the city for a plan that will slightly alter the exterior of the 6,000-square-foot building but radically change the inside.

Instead of 22 dorm rooms, there will be 14 lodge rooms, each with its own bathroom.

And while Fiore said that some of the beds in the lodge will still be rented for as low as $60 a night during peak season, other rooms will command up to $399 a night.

The approval on Monday will allow the owners of the Ski Haus to add a hot tub onto a second-story deck in the back of the building. To alleviate neighbors’ concerns about noise from the hot tub, the owners agreed to close the tub at 9:30 p.m.

The approvals also allow for a full basement to be dug out to provide a dining area for lodge guests. And while the dining area cannot be advertised to the public, much like the cozy bar in the Hotel Lenado, it will be open to the public.

On the exterior of the house, the owners plan to remove additions made to the house in the 1960s and add a new carport in the back of the house, boosting the lodge’s parking from one space to three.

The plans to renovate the building have been approved by Aspen’s Historic Preservation Commission.

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