Letter: Vague Base2 opponents
October 10, 2015
I don't know about you, but when opponents to Base2 approached me about signing the petition to put this to a referendum, I asked what they objected to. I heard more than once: "It is twice as big as allowed by zoning" and "There is no parking." How often have you been told "it is too big" or it is a "big box"?
The reality is this: Parking appears to be solved, but now the opponents complain it is too late to solve that. The gas station is zoned mixed use, and that allows a height up to 32 feet. Base2 is proposed at 32 feet high. The other three corners on this block, like Carl's right across the street, are zoned commercial core, which allows up to 40 feet in height with no setbacks. Does Base2 sound twice as big as allowed to you? Or out of character with the neighborhood, especially with the Jerome a half a block away?
Yes, within this height, and to make a lodge more viable (as city leaders asked of Mark Hunt), there is more square footage than a retail commercial building — twice as much as allowed in mixed use, but the mass and height of the building are largely the same as what are allowed. When you hear an opponent say, "It is twice as big as zoning allows," that is simply not true. I suppose it is a half-truth in that there is twice as much square footage in the building, but the building is largely the same as allowed. To be fair, Base2 is asking for setback variances, which does make it a little bigger side to side. I think a fair point for consideration is that the other three corners of this intersection, zoned commercial core, would allow a larger box (up to 40 feet high) with no setbacks and virtually the same square footage as proposed on Base2.
Look, if you don't agree with the use as a lodge with 150- to 200-square-foot rooms and the amount of square feet or you are just sick of change and "new," I get it — I respect that opposition. Hell, part of me agrees. But opponents appear purposely vague or even misleading when they decry this as being "twice as big" when it just flat-out is not anywhere near twice as big as zoning allows. Yes, there is more in the box, but the box is not twice as big as allowed. Half-truth? No truth? Obscured truth? You be the judge next time you hear the vitriol.
I am voting for the Base2 development. I'd rather see a 32-foot-high lodge with zero-foot setbacks than a 32-foot-high retail and office building with 5-foot setbacks. Hey, that's just me. Maybe I'm drinking the Kool-Aid from the past three Aspen Area Community Plans that said we should try to encourage affordable lodging.
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