South Aspen Street lodge still on table
July 10, 2012
ASPEN – Whether a parcel of land on South Aspen Street will be developed as a lodge or townhomes remains unclear, though the Aspen City Council on Monday made its preference perfectly clear.
“If we can go forward with a lodge, whose scale matches the current code, we’d be willing to make some concessions to make that happen,” Mayor Mick Ireland said during a public hearing on the “South Aspen Street Subdivision.”
“I’m in,” Councilman Torre agreed. “I’m excited we have the ability to make this work. … I know we can make this work.”
The idea of a lodge at this location – below Aspen Mountain’s Lift 1A – has been in the works for several years. At one time, it was part of the Lodge at Aspen Mountain debate.
ASV Aspen Street Owners LLC acquired the rights to develop the property after the former developer went bankrupt. The new owners obtained previously granted approvals to develop 14 townhouses and 17 affordable-housing units on the site.
On Monday, the developers presented a revised version of that townhome project. And while the council noted many improved aspects, members were concerned by a proposal to move eight affordable-housing units offsite, near the Aspen Business Center. Town staffers were similarly concerned with the revised project, suggesting the developers “substantially revise the plan” before gaining approval.
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Before the council goes too far down the path of approving or denying the townhome development, however, it wanted to delve further into the idea of a lodge at the site.
ASV Aspen Street Owners LLC representatives agreed a lodge is best in theory but cautioned the council about challenges ahead – namely designing a lodge that meets the city’s requirements in mass and scale but at a price the developer can afford.
“All you have to do is stand at the bottom of the hill, and it’s clear this site should be a lodge,” said David Parker, of ASV Aspen Street Owners LLC. “We bought this site with the intention of building a lodge, and we spent a year trying to do that.
“So I just want to be clear that while we really love where you guys are coming from, and it’s very productive, I don’t think we’re going to be able to shrink this very much under every scenario we’ve looked at.”
In fact, Parker said his company is considering as many as 80 hotel rooms and a structure that looks much like one that came out of a co-op process for the site – an outcome that Community Development Director Chris Bendon said “is very much worth taking up again.”
“We have struggled with approval of the townhomes,” he said. “We don’t think townhomes necessarily serve the community or the resort at the site.
“We think discussing the lodge option is something worth doing.”
Thus, the public hearing on the townhome project was postponed until July 23, at which time town planners will present the council with steps needed to continue the discussion about the potential for a lodge on South Aspen Street.
In other business, the council on Monday postponed its discussion on revised plans for the $10 million Pitkin County Library expansion until July 30 at 5 p.m.
County officials want to place a property tax increase on the Nov. 6 ballot to help pay for library construction and operating costs – an action that has to be completed by the end of August. But before they can proceed, the city, as a landowner and stakeholder in the project, has to weigh in on the two-story addition’s mass and scale.
During previous discussions, council members have expressed concerns that the planning team working on library designs and related issues hasn’t done all of its homework. Questions have centered on the size of a rooflike canopy that would cover the facility, the potential for cost overruns and the relationship between the library’s new amenities and the city’s plans for a reconfigured Galena Plaza.