Letter: Beware the Hotel Aspen blight
Beware the Hotel Aspen blight
Dear mayor and members of the City Council,
I am writing to follow up my email of Jan. 13 on the proposal by Hotel Aspen to redevelop 110 W. Main St. through to Bleeker Street. I did not attend the hearing, but I followed the proceeding on GrassRoots TV: the developer’s presentation, your questions, and the comments from the community at the end. I feel that a number of critical issues were not addressed.
It is easy to get lost “in the weeds” and allow this to turn into a complex discussion of land-use terminology and code references that only lawyers and architects trained in a specialized language can understand. It is also easy for this to become an abstract discussion about “progress” vs. “preservation” and the compromises involved in achieving both. Much of the presentation at the hearing was like that. The developer’s presentation was clouded by technical language and abstractions. The issue was framed as an either/or compromise, setting the goal of small lodge development against preservation. What was missing from the presentation is the impact on the community and an understandable demonstration of how this will transform the quality and feel of Main Street and the West End.
Regarding Main Street: There was little discussion of the height and the unsightly mass of the structure that is proposed. The assumption seemed to be that Main Street is zoned-mixed use in any case, so of less concern to the community. The developer attempted to justify the height and mass of the proposed structure by reference to the Hotel Jerome. But the Jerome is an iconic Aspen landmark. And it is several blocks away, not in any sight lines from 110 W. Main St. So it is not relevant, certainly not a precedent.
It was mentioned at the hearing that there are likely to be more applications like this one coming, so the decision on 110 W. Main will have an impact far beyond that block. To illustrate the impact, the developer should present to the council an overlay drawing that shows the proposed new structure visualized on top of the existing structures. That would clearly show what the development would look like from across the street and from Paepcke Park, for example.
Similarly for the Bleeker Street side: The developer proposes two massive industrial size town-house duplexes facing Bleeker and the Yellow Brick park. These are completely out of character with the largely Victorian feel of the neighborhood and other newer multi unit residences nearby. The developer should be asked to submit an overlay drawing of these new structures that permits comparison with what is there now (including the 50 year old pine tree the developer would cut down to make room). The view should be from the Yellow Brick park and/or from the corner of Bleeker and Garmisch.
Hopefully the developer will present these kind of overlay drawings. Architects and planners do them all the time. They would give the council an easy way to visualize the impact this proposal will have on the community.