White Elephant development quietly takes steps in Aspen | AspenTimes.com

White Elephant development quietly takes steps in Aspen

Project marks the latest luxury boutique hotel's arrival

Hotel Aspen closes permanently this week. Construction work on the luxury boutique hotel White Elephant, which will replace the Hotel Aspen, begins this fall.
Rick Carroll/The Aspen Times

Site work for three unbuilt residential chalets being advertised for $25 million each has started in the West End neighborhood as part of a Boston company’s project that also calls for the redevelopment of the Hotel Aspen into a luxury boutique lodge.

The residential development known as the White Elephant Aspen Townhomes is slated for East Bleeker Street and is located across from the Yellow Brick Schoolhouse and around the corner of a White Elephant Hotel planned for Main Street. Hotel Aspen is currently open, but construction on the new hotel is schedule to begin later this fall and last 24 months, according to Sara Adams, speaking on behalf of the developers.

The hotel has a scheduled opening of late 2024, according to marketing material for the project.

A limited liability controlled by New England Development LLC, a privately held Boston-based firm, bought the Hotel Aspen property on 110 E. Main St. and development entitlements for $37.5 million in October 2021. With the acquisition came approvals to build a 54-bedroom hotel and build three 5,000-square-foot homes.

Jordan Nemirow is the listing agent for the White Elephant chalets. He declined to comment Friday about the project but said the current marketing literature captures the main details of the chalets.

Two of the chalets will have five bedrooms, five bathrooms and two half-baths, and the third one will comprise five bedrooms, six bathrooms and one half-bath, according to a sales sheet for the properties. Owners also will have access to the White Elephant hotel’s amenities and concierge.

The property and entitlements previously had been owned by the Brown brothers through their company HayMax Capital, which is redeveloping the Molly Gibson Lodge across Main Street from Hotel Aspen.

That project calls for 68 bedrooms, up from the previous 53, and two 4,500-square-foot single-family residences and one worker-housing unit.

White Elephant also will have nine more rooms than the Hotel Aspen’s 45 condo units, which the Browns had owned since 2003 until selling the lodge last year. Three employee-housing units are also part of the entitlements.

Redevelopment of the Molly Gibson Lodge calls for 68 bedrooms, two 4,500-square-foot single-family residences, and one worker-housing unit.
Rick Carroll/The Aspen Times

The city’s community development department on Sept. 20 approved minor changes to the planned development for the White Elephant’s hotel interior, such as lock-offs in all rooms, a second elevator, and a minor reconfiguration of the lobby and restaurant, according to city land-use records, which noted “the proposed amendments are reasonable and focused on improving the operability of the hotel. Creating lock-offs is acceptable for the flexibility in the use of the units, which remain small and in keeping with the approval.”

New England Development owns the White Elephant Resorts hotel brand, with locations in Nantucket and Palm Beach, which Travel & Leisure named Florida’s best hotel in 2022 and the No. 2 resort in the continental United States.

Also under construction in downtown Aspen is the RH Guesthouse on East Hyman at the site of the old Crystal Palace dinner theater. Like the White Elephant, the project is billed as a luxury boutique hotel. Aspen property developer Mark Hunt and the home furnishings company RH, formerly known as Restoration Hardware, are partnering on the RH Guesthouse project.

In a call with investors Sept. 8., RH CEO Gary Friedman said the Aspen market will be a good testing ground for the RH Guesthouse concept, which debuted earlier this year in New York City.

“I know Aspen used to have 70 billionaires, and now it’s 100 billionaires,” Friedman said. “And they like to have their own home there, but it’s the people who go to Aspen. I think it’s about as affluent of a small-town target market in the world. So we’re going to learn a lot in Aspen. But my sense is — the good thing about New York is if it works in New York, it means it will probably work in other cities. And if it works in Aspen, it will work in other vacation destinations like (inaudible) or the Hamptons or Miami. And then New York will give us a sense for what cities it might work in, whether it’s Paris or London, places like that.”

RH is headquartered in Corte Madera, Calif.