Wienerstube proposal nears finish line |

Wienerstube proposal nears finish line

ASPEN ” Hoping to get the blessing of the City Council, developers of the Wienerstube building are proposing something that’s never been offered before ” guaranteeing commercial tenants a reduced rent.

Whether the council will approve the proposal remains unknown because it was decided Monday that at least one elected official needed more time to contemplate the proposal.

“I will not be voting on this tonight,” Councilman Jack Johnson said, explaining he had been out of town and had not the sufficient time to review the latest offering. “If I do, I will be unable to vote ‘yes.'”

As a result, the City Council voted to continue the public hearing to March 3, which will be a special meeting when a vote on the subdivision application is expected. The plan, which has seen several iterations, has been delayed numerous times.

The development team was prepared to go over the new details in earnest Monday but opted to wait in light of the council holding a special meeting.

“We pushed ahead in good faith,” said Stan Clauson, the project’s planner. “There’s nothing on our part to push this back or have a hasty decision by council.”

The project, which has been in the review process for nearly two years, was about to be shot down by the council Dec. 3, so the development team opted for a continuance to address elected leaders’ concerns.

New to the offering and introduced to the council Jan. 28 was reducing the number of parking spaces from 47 off-street spaces to 23 or 24, plus paying an extra $469,294 as a cash-in-lieu payment for affordable housing.

The three City Council members reviewing the subdivision application in January told the development team they needed to come up with something better in order for it to win approval.

Clauson, representing building owner Steve Marcus, sent a memo to the council Feb. 8 that commits the new development to deed restricting 2,046 square feet of ground floor commercial space to ensure that it remains affordable.

“In other words, 26 percent of the first floor area (excluding the Wienerstube) would be rented at one-half the average rental for the free-market half,” Clauson wrote. “The Wienerstube space, comprising 2,750 square feet is covered under a separate 10-year contract to assure affordability. Overall, this means that 4,796 square feet of net leasable commercial ” or more than 45 percent ” would be rented at a reduced rate for the first 10 years and after 10 years, 26 percent of the overall first floor area would remain permanently restricted.”

The application needs an unanimous vote to win approval since councilmen Steve Skadron and J.E. DeVilbiss recused themselves from the review. Skadron reviewed the proposal when he was a Planning and Zoning commissioner, and DeVilbiss cited a conflict of interest because he is a longtime customer of the Wienerstube.

The land-use plan, for which the owners already have approval, calls for redeveloping the property into a 47,000-square-foot complex that would house the Wienerstube restaurant for at least 10 years, the bike shop and four or five smaller affordable commercial spaces that would face the alley. The 12 affordable housing units and six free-market condos would be on the upper levels along with additional commercial and office space.

Clauson and his clients are seeking approval to subdivide the 18,000-square-foot property, located the corner of Hyman Avenue and Spring Street, because the plan involves creating multifamily units, which requires that the building be separated by different ownership interests.

Neighbors are vehemently opposed to the project, saying it would change the character of the area to something unrecognizable and is far too large for the neighborhood.

Some neighbors on Monday commented on the proposal without seeing a new presentation, which they would have preferred reviewing then instead of having to come back yet again to express their opposition.

Clauson said he, along with the project’s architect, Andy Wisnoski, plan to show the council on March 3 how the building has been set back from the street farther so it doesn’t appear to be as tall. Clauson noted that 51 percent of the building is 38 1/2 feet, and the entire development varies in height so it appears less obtrusive.

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