Letter: Aspen’s choice
October 24, 2015
No matter the outcome of the Nov. 3 election, one way or another, a development is going to happen at the northwest corner of Monarch and Main. That corner is going to become a new building, and the choice of its use is now up to Aspen: Will 232 Main St. be home to Base2, a small, modern, affordable lodge, or will it be the newest bank, pharmacy or other commercial development in Aspen?
Mark Hunt is a commercial developer. He has bought a handful of buildings in Aspen and plans to redevelop several of them in the core. Most will be commercial storefronts or restaurants, some will house familiar stores such as Kemo Sabe, and some will bring new shopping to town. But when Mark asked city leaders what Aspen needed, our council replied that we need lodging.
The 2012 Aspen Area Community Plan stated that "we seek a broader demographic in order to sustain a diverse visitor-based economy. … We recognize that a diverse lodging inventory ensures there are places to stay for those who produce and participate in many of our critically important special events, workshops and other activities." Diverse lodging has been, and remains, a priority for Aspen for 40 years. Recent decades have seen the conversion of nearly 30 hotels into other uses and the loss of thousands of available beds for visitors. Base1 and Base2 are the first step that I have seen in my lifetime to meet the goals of the community plan and fill a critical need in Aspen's lodging base.
I was born in Aspen. I grew up here and am now fortunate that friends visit me here from all over the world. Most of the time, they stay on my couch because I have nowhere else to put them. Aspen is a special place to live and to visit, and we need a lodge that offers small, affordable rooms designed with modern mountain elegance in mind. Base2 would be a great addition to our town and to that corner, matching the use of the other three at that intersection and bringing a fun, vibrant lodge that greets visitors as they enter downtown.
We have the opportunity to make a choice that would positively impact the future of our home. We can vote to erect a lodge that would serve my generation and the next generation of visitors and locals who will define the next era of Aspen. This vote would curate a new narrative in town: that Aspen is a place that cares about sharing our special way of life with the next generation of visitors and that we are committed to building a thoughtful, vibrant community that welcomes visitors and supports young locals.
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After a year of meetings, and approval from the City Council, Base2 belongs in Aspen. Mayor Steve Skadron asked, with courage and vision, that we look to the future and that in "20 years, let's be proud of a cool hotel on that corner." I echo his sentiments and respectfully urge this community to vote "yes" on 2A.