Letter: A blight on Aspen | AspenTimes.com

Letter: A blight on Aspen

A blight on Aspen

The Hotel Aspen project would be a nice addition if they would just stick to the PUD code, which says they must fit into the neighborhood in mass and scale, meaning its height. The heights of the neighborhood houses range from 17 feet to 25 feet.

Two-story houses and lodges can be seen throughout the neighborhood, and any third-story lodges have them below grade at garden level. Why can’t this developer lower the height of the hotel and free-market units to fit into the neighborhood so that it won’t infringe upon the Victorian neighbor to the west, annexing the public alley, cutting down approximately a 200-year-old fir tree, and asking for additional an 15,000 square feet in the three three-story houses on Bleeker?

The three houses are way too large for the building envelope and exceed every other structure in the neighborhood. With the actual hotel exceeding the square footage by 9,500 square feet, I find that the City Council is allowing way too much in the variances on top of what the developer is allowed to build.

If the Browns (owners of three small lodges in Aspen) are not able to finance the project without selling the three free-market houses on Bleeker, then maybe they are not right for this project. How did they fund the purchase of the Mountain House, Hotel Aspen and Molly Gibson? Certainly not with city of Aspen funds.

Many folks in Aspen would love to build their own homes and have someone else pay for it. Why should we citizens have to put up with a very large and dense project out of context with the neighborhood, in a mixed-use and R6 neighborhood, especially when the PUD code says it must fit in with the neighborhood height and mass? This project will look like a very crowded low-income housing project of a major city.

Tourists have been flocking to our Western town of character and culture since Paepkes and Wheelers built our beautiful Victorian hotel and the Wheeler Opera House and influenced the town with a cultural flair so the miners would not be looked upon as just hicks. The miners cottages have wonderful charisma and charm. Aspen in summer is a wonderful place to be outside. The three houses proposed on Bleeker do not allow for any yard space where the owners might wish to have a barbecue or yard party. I would love for the Hotel Aspen project to retain the surface parking the underground parking and reduce the size and number of the free market houses to two two-story miners-type cottages like those along Bleeker.

Then, two miner-type cottages will not infringe in any way to the Victorian to the west. The ultra-modern look to this project is not what draws tourists to our town. We are a Western town, identified by its small-town charm, which is quickly fading away. Once Little Annie’s is remodeled, taking out the bar and wood siding/paneling, it will be gone. By preserving the bar and wood paneling and reinstalling it at a later time, Little Annie’s could be saved. The same can be said for the Hotel Aspen. If they just follow the code and keep to the neighborhood height and mass as the code say, we could keep it character too. Soon we will be just like the big cities, big-box rectangular shapes and no Western character.

The applicants were pretty adamant about not reducing to a two-story house, so City Council, please deny the project until the developers meet neighborhood compatibility. Protect our neighborhoods!

Ed Petrosius


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