Letter: Power Plant opposition lacks solid understanding of project | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Power Plant opposition lacks solid understanding of project

On the subject of the Power Plant, there seems to be much consternation around the plan that has been selected by the city. The detractors and their reasons are as varied as their logic, but all seem to be lacking in a solid understanding of what it is truly about and what it will take to succeed here.

One of the many comments after initial reporting about the lease proposal was the low rent component. Many focused on the $10 figure tossed around for the upstairs section. The roughly 3,500+ square-foot downstairs, at the suggested $45 per square foot, means a minimum of $157,000 rental income owed to the city. Other recurring costs include the estimated $36,000 per year in utilities being paid as recently as 2014. Add to that the fact that the building is not currently fully ADA compliant, would not meet current code for number of restrooms, and that the Power Plant group anticipates investing over $1 million in renovations and build-out to an aging infrastructure. These are significant costs facing any group utilizing the space. Without a for-profit component, i.e. food and beverage/events, I can hardly see how any organization would be sustainable here baring high entrance fees, significant private donations, or subsidies from the city, none of which have been requested.

It is neither unprecedented nor uncommon for a nonprofit to have a for-profit component. To be of true benefit to those using the incubator space, the low cost of use is imperative. To provide the most attractive space for this work, it is certainly favorable and reasonable to have food and beverages available. It’s not a bar. In addition, the leaders of the food, event, and media components are themselves small business entrepreneurs who understand the benefit of the collaborative workspace and would no doubt be a valuable resource for their patrons.

As to the issue of having a somewhat social establishment nearby a residential area, need we be reminded that there is already a liquor-serving bar, private-event hosting, nonprofit establishment no less than 100 yards from Oklahoma Flats. Granted it’s a well established, well respected, charitable organization, but it has nonetheless been located just across the river on East Bleeker since long before some of the homes or their owners were in the Flats. And that didn’t seem to deter them from moving or building there. As someone who lives closer to the power plant than some in the Flats, I am excited of the prospect of what the Power Plant team has to offer.

If you haven’t actually taken the time to read their detailed proposal, all 61 pages of it, before making uninformed statements, you should. It’s been available online for over a year. I believe that if the same care and forethought goes into bringing this plan into fruition as went into the creation of the plan in the first place, it will be an asset to the city.

Todd Wilson


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