Gorsuch the right project for Aspen Mountain
I would like to correct some of the erroneous information in the letter about Gorsuch Haus from Pat and Rania Dempsey that published in The Aspen Times on Friday (“Gorsuch Haus a massive profit center for developers”).
First a disclosure: I am working for Jeff Gorsuch, Bryan Peterson and Lowe Enterprises on this project. I am doing so because I think it is a good project. I say that as someone who grew up in Aspen, who skis Norway and the Lift 1A side of Aspen Mountain all the time and as a member of the 2008 citizens committee (COWOP) that looked closely at the neighborhood and two much larger projects.
Gorsuch Haus as proposed is not nearly as tall as the Dempseys claim. The average height of Gorsuch Haus as currently proposed is 36.2 feet. It’s highest point is 48 feet. More than 90 percent of the building is under 40 feet in height.
Gorsuch Haus will be visible from parts of town, but it is up against a mountain, so it will not impede anyone’s views. There are a number of very tall buildings at the base of Aspen Mountain that do not impede anyone’s views, including the Fifth Avenue Condominiums and the St. Regis hotel. The surrounding residential condominiums are three and four stories tall, many well over 30 feet in height.
As for the conservation zoning that the Dempseys bring up. This is a zone district that was created along the bottom of Aspen Mountain in the 1970s. The Silver Queen gondola is located on the same conservation zoning, as is the current Lift 1A with its parking lot, a lift loading area, roads and equipment storage. We run jeeps, motorcycles and other vehicles through this zoning up Summer Road all summer long. It is important to consider what the elected officials of the 1970s were trying to conserve with that zoning designation. I think they were conserving the ski area for ski-area uses.
Gorsuch Haus is a modest-sized hotel by Aspen standards that has been reduced in size once in response to the Planning and Zoning Commission and is currently going through review by the City Council. We have worked hard to listen to the community about the project and have found broad support. A hotel is the most public option for redevelopment of that area, because hotels are welcoming to guests and locals alike. We will get a badly needed new lift that is essentially in the same location as the current lift, with a locker room, restrooms, skier services and a new patrol room, as well.
As a member of the 2008 COWOP, I can say that this is a much better project, one that will have much less impact on the neighborhood than any previous proposal.