Letter: Don’t give Hotel Aspen a pass
Don’t give Hotel Aspen a pass
Dear Councilman Art Daily,
There are two ways to build three new over-sized 5,000-square-foot “free-market” homes in Aspen’s West End.
One way is to purchase three properties zoned for residential homes and purchase three transferable development rights —TDRS — needed to build beyond what the properties alone allow. The three vacant properties in the West End nearest the Hotel Aspen are currently listed for $3.9 million, $4.5 million and $3.5 million. Adding the cost of three TDRs at $200,000 each yields a total initial investment of $12.5 million before significant city mitigation fees.
The other way is to purchase an existing lodge and demand City Council allow 15,000 square feet of new residential homes, saving the developer the initial investment of buying residential zoned lots.
It is this second way that is before City Council on Monday in connection with the proposed Hotel Aspen rebuild that increases the hotel’s lodging inventory by only nine units, in exchange for three modern residences to rise three stories in the back on the traditional two-story Victorian Bleeker Street.
The Hotel Aspen proposal asks for multiple variances above and beyond the many incentives written into the current Aspen lodging land use code. The code sets 27,000 square feet of floor area for the entire property and then provides for a “special review” process that allows square footage to be increased to a generous 33,750. Yet the owners of Hotel Aspen want more. The developers are asking for a variance to build 9,500 square feet of floor-area ratio (FAR), or 35 percent over the 27,000 allowable and 2,750 square feet of FAR, or 8 percent over the liberal “special review” allowance of 33,750.
In addition to the egregious variances, Hotel Aspen wants a waiver of the $91,000 city mitigation fee earmarked to support of our local parks and transportation. Neither the Parks Department nor the Transportation Department supports waiving these fees.
It’s time for Aspen’s city council to stand firm on the thoughtful and already flexible Aspen code, by directing staff to draft an ordinance for Hotel Aspen project that conforms with the code allowed two-story, 25-foot height along Bleeker and 27,000 square feet of FAR, or at the most, the liberal “special review” allowance of 33,750, but not one square foot more!
By treating Hotel Aspen the same as other applicants under existing municipal land use law, future developers, community members, and elected officials will know the playing field is level. The precedent of “no special treatment for special interests” should put an end to the inordinate waste of time and resources spent on the Hotel Aspen’s request for the moon.
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