Skiers Chalet sale complete
Investors finalized their purchase of the Skiers Chalet lodge last week, bringing the South Aspen Street neighborhood another step closer to an overhaul that could eventually bring a new lift and public parking.The area near the base of Lift 1A is poised for transformation. A large hotel, the Lodge at Aspen Mountain, has received conceptual approval on the west side of Aspen Street; on the east, the Holland House and Skiers Chalet are both under new ownership. Redevelopment plans are expected for both of the venerable lodges.Local developer Greg Hills represents 710 S. Aspen LLC, which closed on its purchase of the Skiers Chalet building on Gilbert Street for $3 million on Jan. 5, purchasing the property from the Awrey family. The new owners acquired the chalet building that contained the former Skiers Chalet Steak House several years ago for $2 million.
The restaurant building is historic and must be preserved; the separate lodge structure is not protected under the city’s historic designation. The lodge parcel, uppermost on the hillside, is adjacent to the bottom terminus of Lift 1A – Aspen’s access to the Ruthie’s side of Aspen Mountain. It’s a prime parcel, Hills conceded.”Five years from now, it’s going to be beachfront,” he said. “Whatever is done there, it’s going to be done very nicely.”The Skiers Chalet’s buyers are now contemplating what to do with the two parcels that constitute the property. Hills said he hopes to see all the players in the neighborhood work together on a broader vision that could include skier parking at Dean and Aspen streets and a new lift – often referred to as the “town lift” – to carry skiers and boarders up the hill to the bottom of Lift 1A. Already, developers of the Lodge at Aspen Mountain have offered to replace 1A with a modern chair as part of their project, which will return to the Aspen City Council this year for final review.
The idea of an underground parking garage at the base of the old Lift One – the remnants of which stand silently above Dean Street – has been batted around, Hills confirmed. Bringing the historic Lift One back into operation, or installing a new, short connector lift – the town lift – has also a topic of discussion.The various hotel developers have also discussed a joint effort to improve the safety of steep South Aspen Street, which is often icy and treacherous during winter. Developers of the Lodge at Aspen Mountain are driving that discussion, as the council has made it clear the issue needs to be addressed as part of their hotel plan.Ideally, the entities contemplating developments in the neighborhood will work together on various issues, Hills said.”There are a lot of moving parts for everyone up there to figure out,” he said. “We have an opportunity to really change that area for a long time. This is our one chance. It would be a shame if we blew it.”
The Skiers Chalet closed its lodging operation last year, announcing it would not reopen this winter. The steakhouse closed at the end of the 2004-05 ski season.Howard Awrey and his wife, Jean, built the original Skiers Chalet, which eventually contained the Steak House, next to the old Lift One in 1953. The second, separate lodge building was constructed on Gilbert Street in 1965.Listed as the sellers in last week’s transaction were the Skiers Chalet LLC, Howard Awrey and Diana O’Callahan-Awrey.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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