Su Lum: Slumming
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Here we go again, with another nonprofit slithering around our zoning codes to transmogrify itself as free market property.
The Silver Lining Ranch is on the cusp of doing this with the land donated by Fabi Benedict, who would probably rise up and curse the perpetrators if she could. I hope she can.
Now the University of Colorado School of Medicine is putting The Given Institute on the chopping block. The Given is one of Aspen’s best buildings, in a gorgeous setting donated by Elizabeth Paepcke. If this goes through I don’t think we’ll be seeing many donations in the future.
Here’s how this one works. CU, being an educational institution, is exempt from our zoning laws, meaning they can scrape or enlarge at will. Comes a buyer (“unidentified,” of course) who is smart enough to know that, as the new owner, he will be subject to reviews and approvals so he stipulates that the entire complex must be scraped. Isn’t that clever? The real irony will be if the buyers are the ones we think they are.
The University of Colorado appears to be making a serious attempt to come across as the good guys. “I understand the sentiment and I feel badly (sic),” said Dean Richard Krugman. CU has agreed to the 90-day negotiation period with the city, though it doesn’t have to, and they have already said that expansion or refurbishing won’t work for them so good luck with that.
They have also promised not to scrape the buildings until the money is in hand – whoopie.
You’ll get the chance to speak out on this at the Historic Preservation Commission meeting on July 14, but it’s never too soon to start the agitation against a demolition project of this magnitude. Will The Aspen Institute be next? Is nothing sacred but the second home?
The first step may already have been taken, but I haven’t heard about it. The first step is to discover and reveal the original agreement between Elizabeth Paepcke and the University of Colorado. If there were any strings attached we could fight it on those grounds: You may not have to follow our codes, but you are honor-bound to follow your agreement with Ms. Paepcke.
CU is already planning their good-bye party, so we’d better get cracking.
One reason The Given isn’t making enough money to sustain itself is the lack of an adequate kitchen! Good golly, if that’s the deal-breaker I think the city should be able to negotiate getting them a state-of-the-art kitchen (and a personal chef) worthy of a $20 million property that could be in demand for rental year-round.
If all else fails, we can count on Fabi and Pussy to exact their revenge.
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