Letter: Let’s take a smart approach toward Hotel Aspen
Let’s take a smart approach toward Hotel Aspen
Aspen is both a resort and a town. There will always be spirited discussions between the competing interests of both sides of the coin. This is particularly true along Bleeker Street, as it is the southerly boundary of the “fashionable West End,” as it was humorously named back in the late ‘60s.
Walk with me along East and West Bleeker from Mill Street to First Street. On the left is the mass of the Jerome Hotel running the entire length of this block and a new office/residential building coming out of the ground on the right. On the northeast corner of East Bleeker and Aspen is the majestic, historic Community Church. On the southwest corner is Century Link‘s undistinguished phone center for Aspen, running over half of the block on the south side. From the intersection of East Bleeker and Gamisch is the Yellow Brick Schoolhouse and playgrounds on the entire north side of this entire block. Then on the southwest corner of West Bleeker and First is the Tyrolean’s long-term lodging and Lou Wille’s greenhouse-style art studio. For four straight blocks, one experiences an eclectic mix of the personification of Aspen’s “messy vitality.” Among the sampling of residential Victorians and ski-era multi-use buildings along this stretch of Bleeker, a high percentage of those residences are either rented second homes or pure second homes, occupied periodically.
The Aspen Hotel property is in the midst of this mix of commercial, office, lodging, school, church and residential uses on the southwest corner of East Bleeker and Garmisch and on to Main Street. For whatever reasons, the alley running east between Main and Bleeker never reaches Garmisch. I presume that alley is now deeded to the Hotel Aspen.
It is not unexpected that the Hotel Aspen would naturally want to utilize its land for expansion of its lodge base and for some residential use along Bleeker. As we know from our short walk in paragraph two above, these are already existing uses along this route.
The city is rightfully and smartly planning a myriad of ways to revitalize the old lodges and small hotels in order to make them more competitive and to provide more updated hot beds, and is considering increased heights, higher density, mixed uses, etc. We are losing hot beds. So it is a good thing that this application is before our elected officials at this time. It is also seems appropriate for the owners to request some residential uses that would front on West Bleeker, behind the hotel.
The City Council’s role is not to give too many variances in order to make a developer or owner’s investment pay off. Such variances should never be excessive. It is good, however, that the council has some discretion, so that in their wisdom they can work together with applicants, like this one, to carefully make some concessions to approve a project that will be in the best long-term interest of our evolving, dynamic resort town. We rely on the mayor and Council to use their discretion in the best interest of the broader community. In my view, this is an appropriate location for such a hotel/residential mixed-use application, but it should not overwhelm the surrounding community of mixed uses.
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