Ski museum at what price? |

Ski museum at what price?

Yet another interesting proposal has surfaced in the planning department at Aspen City Hall. It’s another redevelopment plan that, given the current political climate, seems bound to generate fear and controversy.Unlike many recent development applications, however, this one burst into the public eye bearing apparent gifts for the community. On Monday, The Aspen Times published a story about Roaring Fork Mountain Lodge-Aspen LLC, which proposes to create a new historical skiing museum at Willoughby Park, the site of old Lift One, using one of the two old Skier’s Chalet buildings. On its face, this is excellent news; a plan to combine a venerable building and a cherished historic site to create something lasting and genuine for Aspen – an investment, if you will, in Aspen’s soul.But at what price? We don’t know yet, because the developers have only disclosed part of their plan. They’ve submitted paperwork outlining an underground parking garage and museum – a likely winner from a political standpoint – but they’ve yet to say how they’re going to pay for it. We don’t know what will generate the cash.We do know that they have plans for the Skier’s Chalet parcel (once the lodge is moved to Willoughby Park) and the neighboring Holland House property. What is proposed for those lodging parcels will determine whether the overall plan swings in favor of the community, the developers or – maybe we’re dreaming here – both.Lift One has been the centerpiece of one of Aspen’s last quiet and charming neighborhoods. It’s a rusting old relic, but alongside the nearby Bavarian-style lodges, it has set the tone for South Aspen Street. Aspen skiing began in the Lift One neighborhood, and it shows.Of course, South Aspen Street’s charm comes from its age, and it is ripe for redevelopment. The enormous Lodge at Aspen Mountain has already been proposed directly across the street from Willoughby Park. It’s saddening that this neighborhood is facing such changes, but it’s also inevitable. In our view, if the changes have to come, then better that they include a ski museum.But how many condominiums or hotel rooms will it take to enable a museum? How much mass and how many square feet of high-end hotel? How many cupolas, turrets and regal architectural flourishes will have to replace the charming lodges of old?Stay tuned.

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