Two major projects before city council
Big changes in Aspen will come to the City Council tonight, couched in a pair of development applications – the Obermeyer Place redevelopment and a proposed new hotel, Residences at Little Nell, at the base of Aspen Mountain.Obermeyer Place has been through a year’s worth of review and scrutiny already. A city-appointed task force and development team assembled by property owner Klaus Obermeyer has put together a plan to redevelop the funky section of town bordered by East Bleeker Street, Spring Street and Rio Grande Place, south of Rio Grande Park.The council will hold a public hearing on the proposal tonight; developers could get their final go-ahead for a project they hope to begin building next spring.The Residences at Little Nell would replace several buildings bordering the slope of the Little Nell ski run, including the former Tippler Nightclub/Italian Caviar building, Tipple Inn Condominiums and Tipple Lodge. A group of investors have organized Aspen Land Fund LLC and have options to purchase the properties in order to pursue their plans for a luxury timeshare hotel that will also include eight standard lodge rooms and about 9,700 square feet of commercial space.The applicants are seeking conceptual approval of the plan, which was whittled down during a review by the Planning and Zoning Commission. The P&Z voted to recommend approval in February; once the project has conceptual approval, it must return to the P&Z and City Council for final approval.Developers plan to raze the existing buildings at the base of the mountain to construct a 98,200-square-foot hotel climbing up the ski slope and forcing the relocation of the base of the Little Nell lift. The Aspen Skiing Co. would manage the Residences, which would be connected to the Skico’s Little Nell Hotel by an underground tunnel, according to the application.The proposal calls for 24 timeshare units to be sold in one-seventh shares. Three would be four-bedroom units; the rest are envisioned as three-bedroom units. Each would have full kitchens and a wet bar.Eight standard lodge rooms are also proposed. With the ability to “lock off” rooms in the timeshare suites and rent them separately, a total of 51 separate, rentable rooms are possible.Commercial space in the hotel and the creation of a pedestrian thoroughfare on Dean Street are proposed, along with a 60-space, underground parking garage.Eight, on-site affordable housing units are proposed for the hotel, along with housing at an as-yet-unidentified site. Housing for 52 employees, including those generated by the hotel and replacement housing for what will be demolished, must be provided, according to the city’s calculations.During the project’s review by the P&Z, the applicants reduced the number of timeshare units and added the eight standard lodge rooms, doubled the on-site affordable housing to eight units, reduced the overall square footage of the project by about 11,000 square feet and reduced its maximum height from 56 feet to 47 feet. The building varies in height from facade to facade, but averages about 35 feet, down from 42 feet, according to a memo to the council outlining the project.Height was a troubling issue for Obermeyer Place early on as well, but developers eventually came up with a plan that sticks to the 35-foot limit under the existing zoning for the area.Five buildings of varying heights are proposed. The entire complex will total no more than 265,000 square feet, according to a staff memo on the project.Obermeyer Place will include 21 deed-restricted units, 21 free-market units, nearly 39,000 square feet of service/industrial/commercial space to replace what exists there currently; roughly 9,000 square feet of medical office space to be leased to Aspen Valley Hospital; up to 900 square feet of neighborhood commercial space; and two levels of underground parking.East Bleeker Street will be vacated to create a pedestrian plaza in the interior of the site, along with a pedestrian link from Main Street to Rio Grande Park. The developers also propose fixing up the county recycling center in the park, across the street from the development, while the city agrees to pursue alternate locations for the recycling operation.The city also envisions allowing temporary use of the former Zupancis property, the vacated former youth center and a portion of the park affected by the recycling center to house businesses that will be displaced by the construction of Obermeyer Place.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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