Sky Hotel plan: Raze it, replace it
September 21, 2005
Owners of Aspen’s Sky Hotel want to raze the building and replace it with a new hotel that contains the same number of guest rooms, along with 10 free-market condos.The existing hotel, at the corner of Durant Avenue and South Spring Street, has seen better days, and new city zoning regulations that offer incentives to upgrade lodging make the project possible, according to Sunny Vann, planning consultant for the owners.”Everybody would tell you the Sky Hotel is a little long in the tooth,” Vann said. “Part of it dates back to the ’60s … small rooms, low ceilings. They’re just looking to upgrade the product.”Kimpton Hotels operates the Sky Hotel for Delaware-based owner Aspen Club Lodge Properties LLC, which has proposed replacing the Sky with an “upscale facility” that would meet the needs of a hotel operator like Kimpton or W Hotels. The latter is part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, which operates the St. Regis Aspen.
The Sky, across Spring Street from the five-star Little Nell, is an L-shaped building of two and three stories with 90 guest rooms. It has limited underground parking.A redevelopment application that has been submitted to the city calls for replacing the hotel with a modern, four-story building in essentially the same footprint, with 90 guest rooms that include three one-bedroom suites. In addition, 10 three-bedroom, free-market condos that will be sold to finance the redevelopment are proposed. Three affordable worker units are also in the plan.Sixty-two underground parking spaces are proposed, along with an outdoor pool and terrace, small cafe off Durant Avenue, bar and lounge, meeting room, business center and fitness area.The Sky Hotel’s existing bar, 39 Degrees, is a popular local hangout. The proposed new bar and lounge would also be open to the public.
The redevelopment plan takes advantage of new incentives for redevelopment in the city’s lodging zone. The free-market condos are permitted under the code because the proposed new hotel provides a sufficient number of standard guest rooms that average no more than 500 square feet in size, Vann said.At 103,182 square feet, the building will be slightly smaller than the maximum that zoning allows, according to the application. At 42 feet, the proposed building will hit the height limit for the site. And the 62 parking spaces are the minimum the zoning requires.”It’s a test case for the new regulations,” Vann said. “It was designed to comply with all of the new lodging regulations.”The lodge units themselves will be condominiumized, but no decision has been made regarding whether they’ll be sold to the public, according to the application. If they are sold, an owner’s ability to use a unit would be limited to 30 consecutive days and no more than 90 days per year.
The standard rooms will range in size from 370 square feet to 680 square feet; the three suites will be 700 to 825 square feet.No provision of worker housing is required in order to raze and replace what currently exists; the three housing units in the plan meet the requirement for the new, free-market condos, which will be about 2,580 square feet in size.The Sky Hotel sits on what has been a lodging site in Aspen since at least the 1960s, when the Glory Hole Lodge and a restaurant operated there. The property was redeveloped in the late 1970s, when the existing west wing was built, and it was renamed the Woodstone Inn. More recently, it operated as the Aspen Club Lodge before the current owners acquired the property and renamed it the Sky Hotel.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org