Option B the best for Aspen

In the 1960s, Jane Jacobs led a movement to protect historic neighborhoods in New York City from the ravages of urban renewal. She underpinned her argument with a powerful new planning philosophy. By spending time both on the vibrant streets of Greenwich Village as well as the new monolithic housing projects and observing how people interact with their respective urban fabric, she uncovered a common sense, but nonetheless transformative truth: diversity (architectural and otherwise) is one key to an energetic, healthy, safe, creative and delightful urban environment.

The rise of real estate values have eroded Aspen’s diversity, most acutely in its retail ecosystem. The city government has done an admirable job protecting the town’s historic buildings, providing affordable housing and countering the worst of runaway speculation, but on the retail front, the city has been frustratingly impotent.

Now the voters of Aspen have the chance to address this problem. The current City Hall was once known as the Armory — and it was public space for public use. It is the ideal location to turn a new page and create a space for retail diversity in Aspen. This can be done via a public market akin to Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Flexible, affordable, diverse and focused on local culture, it would be a blank canvas for our amazing farmers, artisans, cooks, inventors and community organizations to present their ideas and wares year-round to locals and visitors alike. But a conversation cannot even begin if we don’t pick Option B. By creating a new consolidated, cheaper and more efficient city hall just a block away, it reopens the door to create something great in the heart of town. Vote for Option B.

Chris Hassig