Su Lum: Slumming
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
The 300,000-square-foot gigantic hotel project proposed at the site of Lift 1A could never have been built under ordinary circumstances, but is asking for special dispensations and consideration on the basis of its benefit to the community.
Consisting of the Lift One Lodge and the Lodge at Aspen Mountain (the use of the “lodge” word is a marketing trick to diminish its enormity), the project will indeed be of great benefit/profit to the developers and the neighboring property owners who envision an increase in real estate value, but what will it mean for Aspen?
Have you ever heard that claim before? For Obermeyer Place, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass Village (motto: If it doesn’t work, triple the size)? Unmentioned is that the area’s lack of vitality came about by ripping down the Holland House (Lift One Lodge) and the Mine Dumps (Lodge at Aspen Mountain). A few small real lodges would be great, but there’s not enough profit in it, and it IS all about the money, honey.
Even when we were riding high on the real estate bubble, the only time we needed more high-end hot beds was the two-week holiday season when we could arguably have squeezed in a few more sheep to be fleeced into the Christmas corral. Now that the bubble has burst and we’re trying (desperately) to fill the rooms we have, this argument has no credibility at all.
On the other hand, if all those employees weren’t generated, they wouldn’t have to be “housed.” The suggestion to use Burlingame for some of the housing “generated” is just a step backward in the attempt to house the commuting employees we already have.
In fact, according to Georgia Hanson of the Aspen Historical Society, the ski museum is not tied to this project at all. The ski museum’s approvals are already in place, so the implication that this is some kind of community amenity is fatuous.
The reality is that this is a huge real estate development project for which the developers are asking a 10- to 15-year approval time to complete. A hole halfway to China could be dug and then sit there for years. The rights could be sold, the financing could go bottoms up, but the rights would remain, to be used as a cudgel or bargaining chip, the way John Sarpa has been holding his rights to build townhouses on the site over the heads of the city.
Right now, those townhouses are looking pretty good.
This project will mean major upheaval in terms of traffic, digging and construction and, if and when completed, will continue to add to traffic and add to the affordable-housing demand, all for the sake of the diamond set’s perceived desire for more penthouses and luxury rooms.
The possible final hearing on the matter will be held at City Hall next Monday, Jan. 12.
Congratulations to Steve Skadron for his skepticism and to Mick Ireland for demanding answers to unanswered questions. Dwayne Romero (see Obermeyer, Highlands, Snowmass Village) is of course all for it. I hope Jackie Kasabach really can step into J.E.’s shoes at this critical moment, because J.E. would never have voted for this in a million years.
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