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Weigh in on the future of Aspen

If you care about the future of downtown Aspen, then consider heading to the Hotel Jerome today at lunchtime, where city officials will present preliminary plans for a series of interconnected developments that promise to change the face of downtown Aspen.

The so-called ZG Master Plan will be the focus of a public meeting from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the ballroom of the historic hotel. The plan concerns the future use of the Zupancis and Galena Plaza properties just off Main Street ” from the Pitkin County Library to the city’s parking department office east of the county’s courthouse annex building. Or, as the city puts it, “publicly owned properties between Main Street and Rio Grande Park and between North Mill Street and Obermeyer Place.”

It’s a lot of real estate, including the multistory Rio Grande parking garage and the former Aspen Youth Center, and the plans involve a number of participants: the city of Aspen, Pitkin County, the library, the Aspen Art Museum and the Aspen Chamber Resort Association. These organizations are eyeing the property for new offices, meeting space and other purposes.



None of the plans are set in stone. In fact, city officials say they’re holding the meeting in order to present some conceptual plans to the public and hear from residents as to whether they’re on the right track.

Among the ideas in the mix are: relocation of the art museum, now located by the Roaring Fork River on Gibson Avenue, on the youth center site; adding another level to the parking garage, possibly for new chamber offices and a visitor center;




a new meeting hall for the city and county, perhaps at the north end of Galena Street or on the Zupancis parcel, just east of the courthouse annex on Main Street;

redevelopment of the city-owned parking lots on Rio Grande Place as affordable housing, “neighborhood commercial” space or performing arts space.

Although the ZG properties are the centerpiece of the meeting, they’re not the only parcels under discussion. Potential expansion of the Wheeler Opera House also is on the table. Already set to begin this spring is construction of a new and larger Aspen Volunteer Fire Department station on Hopkins Avenue.

Whether you like all of these ideas or none of them, or if you sit somewhere in between, today’s meeting might be the best chance to learn about the possibilities and weigh in with your opinions.

Whatever eventually happens on these properties, it likely will involve bigger buildings ” the figure 48,000 square feet is being used to describe the city’s and county’s office space needs ” and a reordering of the way the public uses and navigates this part of Aspen.

Be there.

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