Summer will be busy for builders | AspenTimes.com
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Summer will be busy for builders

Brent Gardner-Smith

A series of big, public-sector construction projects starting in the next several months will dramatically increase Aspen’s usual amount of summer construction activity.As a variety of state, city, county and school district projects converge this summer with a host of private-sector projects, it may seem like the Perfect Construction Storm to drivers trying to move around the upper valley.At least $200 million worth of private-sector construction projects in Aspen will be under way this year. On top of that, over $100 million in public projects will add to the now familiar mix of dump trucks, cement trucks and orange barrels in and around Aspen. Among the projects: -The Aspen School District will break ground on a $40 million, 106,000-square-foot high school project in June.-The city of Aspen will start on a $17 million, 81,000-square-foot ice rink and swimming pool project across from the high school at the end of March.-The Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority is starting this week on a $33 million, 66,000-square-foot affordable housing project at Truscott Place at the Aspen Golf Course. That project includes major changes to the section of Highway 82 in front of the project.-The Aspen Parks Department has about $6 million worth of projects planned for this summer, including renovating the Aspen Ice Garden, installing two new pedestrian bridges, completing the landscaping of the Maroon Creek roundabout and a host of other projects.-And the Colorado Department of Transportation’s $12 million four-laning of Highway 82 between the Aspen Airport Business Center and the Maroon Creek Bridge is expected to resume in April and continue through the summer. As part of that project, Pitkin County is expected to complete upgrading Owl Creek Road.There are also several significant private projects either starting or continuing this spring.Construction is continuing on the $230 million Aspen Highlands Village, as well as on a host of luxury homes in the neighboring Five Trees subdivision. And next to the Airport Business Center, the North Forty deed-restricted housing project will continue to keep some contractors busy.In downtown Aspen, the demolition of the Grand Aspen hotel is scheduled to begin on April 13, followed by construction of a 115,000-square-foot hotel in its place.”It’s going to be interesting [to see] how people are going to get around,” said Russ Grance, the deputy chief building official with the Community Development Department.The building department recorded $181 million in commercial and residential construction in 2000 and $192 million in 1999. The figures are compiled from the estimated value of construction that contractors report on building permit applications. The figures are recognized by building officials to be two to three times below the true cost of local construction projects.”It’s at a steady pace this year,” said Grance. “We have experienced no slowdown. The `moratorium’ didn’t slow us down at all.”Last year, Pitkin County approved a six-month building moratorium in order to update the county’s land-use code, and the construction community warned of dire economic consequences.Return to The Aspen Times or AspenAlive.com


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