Skico freezes on Holiday House plan
Residents opposed to the expansion of the Skico’s Holiday House employee housing have apparently stalled the project.The Aspen Skiing Co. has yanked the proposed renovation from Monday’s City Council meeting, and according to David Corbin, Skico’s vice president of planning, the company may ice the entire project.”We’ve asked the city to continue its consideration of the project until April,” Corbin said Friday. “We want time to look at our options with regard to Holiday House specifically and our overall employee housing needs in general. At this point, we want to go back and revisit our full employee housing goals.”The Skico has proposed demolishing the two existing 35-unit buildings, at 125 and 127 W. Hopkins Ave., and replacing them with one new building, which, according to Corbin, would cost $7 million to $8 million and take 12 to 18 months to construct.The two old buildings together contain 36 bedrooms and 64 beds. The Skico’s proposal called for upping those numbers to 74 bedrooms and 74 beds. In addition, the new proposal would have added 19 on-site parking places.The plan has drawn significant opposition from neighbors, which, according to Corbin, finally wore down the Skico’s resolve.”Given the sort and level of opposition from the neighbors as to the number of occupants and seasonal workers we would like to be able to house in the building, we have concluded that it might not be in our best interests to pursue this,” Corbin said. “As the proposal now stands, we would gain only 10 extra beds, and that might not be worth $7-8 million.”Jane Erb, president of the board of directors of the nearby Cottonwoods Condominium Homeowners’ Association, said her opposition was not based upon an anti-employee housing mentality.”It is a matter of scale,” said Erb, a 28-year resident of the Cottonwoods. “This is a quiet neighborhood populated by people who have to get up in the morning and go to work. The Skico bought the Holiday House in 1986, and in that time, there have been managers who have done an excellent job, and there have been times when the managers have been part of the gang and the … parties we have been complaining about.”She said the Skico proposal has been too large in terms of additional numbers of residents, the actual size of the building and of the numbers of additional parking spaces.”We have been accused on NIMBYism, and that’s unfair and inaccurate,” she said. “We’ve only been asking that the project fit into the fabric of the neighborhood.”Added Phyllis Bronson, a 30-year resident who lives on West Hopkins, the entire experience of dealing with the Skico has been “terrible.””We have a quiet, hardworking neighborhood,” Bronson said after hearing that the Skico had pulled Holiday House from Monday’s council agenda. “… It has seemed from the beginning that they have wanted to cram as many employees as possible into that building.”Corbin said one of the two old buildings has been unoccupied this winter because of the structure’s tired condition.”We need to re-examine the goals of the project in a larger context,” Corbin said. “Employee housing is a dilemma not just for the Skico, but for the town. It’s hard for us to address that shortfall when we face such intense neighborhood opposition and when we experience such ambivalence on the part of the city government in reaching our employee housing goals.”Erb said there would have been significantly less opposition if the Skico would have proposed no net increase in residents.”Not one of us opposes employee housing, either in general or at the Holiday House,” she said.
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