Letter: Another cash grab? | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Another cash grab?

Another cash grab?

Is the long-range goal and intent of the Brown brothers, owners-developers of the Hotel Aspen, to modernize and preserve a small lodge or is it to cash out on their requested three free-market units on Bleeker’s West End, in the potential amount of $20 million? This development would be a permanent negative impact on the West End neighborhood in mass, scale and character and would only add nine additional hotbeds.

If the owner-developers really wanted to help out the city with needed hotbeds, then why would they not redevelop the entire parcel with more than just nine more small rooms ? The Hotel Aspen just had a major remodel four years ago in 2010. With the Boomerang coming back in scores of hotbeds, is Aspen’s loss of the affordable bed base as bad as some might think?

After the Hotel Aspen’s recent remodel in 2010, approximately 87 percent of their 45 existing units are at 300 square feet and approximately 15 percent of their units are 475-square-foot fireside-suites. With a simple remodel they can arrive at their requested nine additional units without much effort, all done without a public subsidy of $91,000 (destroying two historic districts).

Recent remodels of the Annabelle Lodge and Innsbruck Lodge along Main Street were done without requesting inordinate public funding and subsidy, and without going beyond the code allowances in height and mass along the historic Main Street corridor.

These hotelier bothers seem to have no interest in protecting neighborhood character, following existing codes or protecting historic character of Aspen’s last two remaining historic districts.

When an application is turned down by the Planning and Zoning Commission, as well as the city planning department, and has more than 100 neighborhood and citizen names on a petition in its opposition, there must be more to this application than meets the eye. Is it greed?

The developers should not hold the town hostage by asking the public to cover their mitigation fees of $91,000, by taking out soaring 100-year-old trees for their free-market houses, and by building lot line to lot with more mass and height than is accepted by code.

If these applicants want to be truly good neighbors and responsible citizens, then they should certainly accommodate the city with more hotbeds than just nine, rather than take their multi-millions on public subsidies and run. This is not what Aspen’s small-lodge preservation overlay code intended or what Aspen needs.

Junee Kirk


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