Lum: Saving local lodges
In the city’s efforts to preserve local lodges by offering them incentives to upgrade and remodel their units, the expected unexpected/unintended consequences popped up immediately when planner Stan Clausen (collective “uh oh”) appeared before the council asking permission to demolish the Hotel Aspen and replace it with a brand-new hotel and a slew of condominiums that were required, of course, as the financial engine for the project.
Is this what the city meant? I don’t think it’s what the community wants.
Councilman Dwayne Romero is, of course, all gung-ho for it, Adam Frisch is wavering, you never know where Art Daily will land, Steve Skadron and Ann Mullins don’t constitute a majority, and you don’t have to be a Las Vegas oddsmaker to predict how this absurd proposal will go.
Everyone will agree that it’s too big (9,500 square feet above what is allowed) and that they’re asking for a ridiculous amount of fee waivers. The size and waiver requests will be minimally reduced, a few trees will be spared, Clausen will weep, saying that they are being scraped to the bone, and in the end the hotel will be demolished and the project will proceed as anticipated from the start. Ask for something huge, hope for a miracle, and barring that, whittle it down just enough to pass with a 3-2 vote.
Back in the day, Charlie Paterson and Ralph and Marian Melville built by hand, bit by bit, the Boomerang Lodge and the Mountain Chalet.
They started with a couple of rooms or, in Charlie’s case, a one-room cabin, and when business got better and better, they added on, upgraded and remodeled.
Sure, we’d like for the Tyrolean Lodge and the St. Moritz to stay the same locally owned, reasonably priced hostels we all love, but be careful what you wish for. The Boomerang is now a hole in the ground, and we all saw what happened to the Limelight.
Whatever the Hotel Aspen approvals, they will set a precedent for all future applications, and there’s the real rub. A neighbor of mine is applying for concessions on a shed remodel, and I’ll be watching carefully for the outcome of that — hee hee — because I happen to have two sheds in my yard.
You can bet that all eyes are on the Hotel Aspen to see what level of desecration the city will allow. Then let the party begin.
On a more amusing development note, the Commercial Core and Lodging Commission has approached the council for $200,000 in startup funds for a temporary German Christmas market to be set up in Wagner Park for the month of December for the next five years.
Everyone will flock to buy German-made Christmas ornaments and steins of Gluhwein — an awful drink that went out in the ’70s — and with a week at each end for construction and dismantling, it will upheave the park for six weeks.
Is Andrew Kole back in town?
I think we should start an organization called HOOP for Hands Off Our Parks.
Su Lum is a longtime local who thinks the council should say no, no, no, no and hell no. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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