Spring Building in Aspen ducks controversy, goes green
September 1, 2012
ASPEN – Construction crews are putting the finishing touches on a building that the developer is touting as one of the greenest in Aspen.
The Spring Building, at the corner of Spring Street and East Hopkins Avenue, features a green roof, living walls, a solar photovoltaic system for domestic hot water and geothermal wells that will help heat and cool part of the structure.
A crew from Rocky Mountain Green Roofs spent Thursday and Friday installing close to 1,000 flats that are one-by-two feet with an average of three plants per flat. Instead of a hot, black tar roof, the Spring Building’s top will feature purple sage, Indian blanket, sweet William, coral bells, day lily, Russian sage, bearded iris, lemon thyme, coreopsis, coneflower, goldenrod and feather reed grass. The perennials will winter over and sprout anew in spring.
Two street-level gardens will feature Xeriscaping, with use of plants that require little water. Two walls with plants will be incorporated into that landscaping.
“These two landscaping features are thought to be the only of their kind in Aspen,” said Chris Striefel, broker and owner of TRU Real Estate. He was the broker for the buyer of the building and now is the leasing agent.
The Spring Building was developed by Rudin West LLC, whose principal is Michael Rudin of Manhattan. Rudin spent two winters in Aspen working as an associate with TRU Real Estate.
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“During that time we scouted and vetted potential development projects,” Striefel said. “The Mularz building had been on the market for 2-plus years when he purchased it May 2010.”
Rudin’s family is prominent in the real estate development and leasing business in New York City. This was the first project the 27-year-old tackled separately, so he wanted to “make a statement,” Striefel said. The building exceeds common building practices in many ways, he said.
One way is the use of 13 geothermal wells that tap water beneath the building to heat and cool the commercial portion of the building. Solar panels were mixed in with the garden on the roof to provide domestic hot water for the entire building.
The Springs Building drew accolades from Stephen Kanipe, Aspen’s chief building official. “It’s a very thoughtful building. A combination of systems was used to enhance its efficiencies,” he said.
But the Spring Building’s stands out for more than its green touches. Kanipe said he believes Rudin and his team did a great job of designing an attractive building that fits well on a prominent corner near the commercial core.
“I walk by it four times per day,” Kanipe said. “It’s lovely. It’s a great example of what we can do downtown with beautiful materials.”
The building was design by David Johnson Architects. Joe Falcone of Falcone Construction Management is the general contractor.
The Spring Building was approved before the most recent controversy over three-story buildings in and around the commercial core. Rudin completed the purchase of the building in May 2010 and had approvals by December 2010.
“It was designed from the beginning to fit into the C1 zone,” Striefel said.
Adam Roy of David Johnson Architects came up with a land-use plan that avoided the need to seek variances, according to Striefel. The Spring Building earned administrative approval and didn’t require review by the City Council.
After lengthy debate, the council approved a two-story height limit this April. The limitation wasn’t applied for 30 days, so it triggered a surge of applications for buildings that can be developed under the old rules. Meanwhile, the city will work on new criteria necessary for third floors.
The Spring Building has a 2,000-square-foot penthouse where Rudin will live. The lower two floors are retail and commercial. The first floor has 1,800 square feet and is designed to accommodate a restaurant. The second floor is 1,200 square feet and has two tenants lined up. David Johnson Architects will locate there, as will attorney Matt Ferguson.
Ferguson said his staff is “thrilled” to be moving into the Spring Building. “It is a stunning building in its finishes, attention to detail, public spaces – and it is a green building,” he said. “There are some great new Aspen buildings, but our space laid out best in the Spring Building.”
Rudin West’s affordable housing requirement was handled off-site. Rudin purchased a free-market unit at Hunter Creek Condominiums, deed-restricted it and sold it via lottery.
Striefel said he is confident Spring Street will evolve into a “real thoroughfare” and the Spring Building’s stature will rise. The building is just east of what is considered the commercial core, but the construction of the Aspen Art Museum a block away could expand the core.
“The walking patterns, the traffic patterns are going to shift to the east,” Striefel said.