City and developers are partners in greed
Jim DeFrancia’s affordable-housing development at 1020 E. Cooper Ave. should be relocated to the Lift 1A site.
City staff and council’s evidentiary partnership with the Lift 1A development seems to be justified by the city’s tax revenue and the prerequisite of employee housing. This prospect of revenue also seems to justify why the city and council were so difficult in its plans review process for a single-family home at 1020 E. Cooper’s 4,000-square-foot. Review of the application history indicates the city seemingly planned a coordinated attack on the applicant owner resulting in inordinate accumulated time and review costs.
Unfortunately this method of “taking” by the city has been frequently used historically to take free-market properties for APCHA and the city. Community Development’s and Historic Preservation Commission’s onerous, authoritative micromanagement and inordinately costly and subjective, 19-step building review process at $325 per staff/hour, often more than $300,000, are some of the predatory tools that the city uses to bully single-family applicants. The HPC looks more like a regulatory extortion racket than historical preservation. The single-family home applicant at 1020 E. Cooper chose to cut losses and escape from the city’s clutches by selling out to accommodate DeFrancia’s APCHA’s L1A development mandates.
How City Council, staff and the HPC can spend nearly a year focusing on a single-family home proposal where historic overlay district concerns of massing and height impacts are paramount, can now be conveniently thrown out the window for DeFrancia’s three-story, maximum lot-line to lot-line, closet apartment five-plex is more than just perplexing?
How can the city have it both ways? Is this just another construct of corrupt legislation? DeFrancia was a former P&Z and HPC commissioner, fancy that. He is accommodated by the council’s secret “different strokes for different folks” (DSFDF) ordinance. The City Council possesses the fiduciary duty and discretionary authority to truthfully examine occupancy density, parking and safety/egress requirement data for block 34. Common sense and duty should dictate rezoning block 34 and deny this project as presented.
The L1A project, with DeFrancia as a front man, has been in the works for at least the past decade, earning the developers numerous city concessions to code. Most notable are the significant employee-housing mitigation credits. Those concessions translate directly to L1A profits at Blk 34’s expense.
The 1020 E Cooper project is poorly serviced by a dead-end alley, a short dead-end East Hyman Avenue, East Cleveland Street and Highway 82/East Cooper Avenue; with no overnight parking. Blk 34’s Calcutta alley is marginal at best today and will be grossly deficient with the addition of DeFrancia’s proposed five additional residences. With DeFrancia’s development, Blk 34 will have 67 living residences with an average of near two bedrooms per residence and the potential of at least one car per bedroom. This is why everyone but city staff is screaming about inadequate parking.
City staff lied that there was adequate neighborhood parking just like their fraudulent, self-validation letter of purported neighborhood support for the HPC, where my name, Scott McDonald was at the very top of the endorsement list.
The city of Aspen and L1A both maximize their profits by exempting onsite employee housing to the expense of the loss of Blk 34’s existing 62 residences livability, parking, safety and so-called sacred city historic overlay standards.
Aspen is finite, but not for partners in greed, the city of Aspen and “SPAC” developers.
Scott and Caroline McDonald
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