Townhomes remain option for Aspen’s Lift One |

Townhomes remain option for Aspen’s Lift One

ASPEN ” Developers hoping to build a hotel at the base of Aspen Mountain have been granted an 18-month extension on their backup plan to build townhomes if voters this spring fail to approve a master plan for the area.

The Aspen City Council on Monday voted unanimously to grant an extension in the vested rights for John Sarpa, Scot Matteson and Mike Smith, the principals of Centurion Partners, to build 14 townhomes and 17 affordable-housing units on South Aspen Street.

Centurion Partners received approval in 2003 to build the residential development on 2.4 acres on the west side of South Aspen Street, adjacent to Lift 1A and where the Mine Dump Apartments used to be.

But the project has been put on hold over the years so Centurion could pursue developing a hotel. Centurion’s proposal to develop the Lodge at Aspen Mountain was rejected in the fall of 2007 by the City Council.

Instead of building the townhomes at that time, Sarpa and his partners decided to enter into a master-planning effort with adjacent landowners, including the Aspen Skiing Co. and the city of Aspen. After a six-month planning process, the City Council in January voted to let Aspen residents decide the fate of the development.

The townhomes would contain more than 84,000 square feet of residential development that likely will be second homes and unoccupied most of the year.

Townhomes are not an option that Centurion or elected officials particularly like because they say such units won’t add vitality to Aspen’s historic neighborhood, which has seen little redevelopment in the past few decades.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the other option on the table and up for public vote in May is the Lift One Master Plan, which proposes nearly 300,000 square feet of residential and commercial space.

It includes Centurion’s Lodge at Aspen Mountain, a 175,000-square-foot hotel and ownership lodge. The other major piece of the master plan is the Lift One Lodge proposed by developers David Wilhelm, Jim Chaffin and Jim Light under the auspices of Roaring Fork Mountain Lodge Aspen LLC. It would be 130,000 square feet and built below Lift 1A, in part where the Holland House once operated.

There would also be a host of community benefits, including a brew pub, a midpriced restaurant and public ski lockers on the ground floor of the defunct Skiers Chalet Steak House building.

The development would generate 1,300 car trips a day and would have a 500-space parking garage underground, planners say.

Monday’s extension of vested rights for the townhomes gives developers sufficient time to obtain building permits and construction financing if voters shoot down the master plan.

The campaign surrounding the Lift One Master Plan is expected to ramp up soon ” developers and the opposition are preparing for a big fight in the coming months. The city of Aspen will likely enter the fray by launching a neutral public education campaign.

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