Affordable housing eyed for downtown Aspen property |

Affordable housing eyed for downtown Aspen property

Instead of building a hotel, Base 1, at the corner of Original and Cooper, which developer Mark Hunt has approval for, an affordable housing complex might be built instead.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times

What has been approved as a hotel on the outskirts of downtown Aspen is now being considered for an affordable-housing complex.

Developer Mark Hunt, who is behind the ownership of several downtown buildings, is considering workforce housing at the corner of Original Street and Cooper Avenue.

That would replace his current plans to build Base 1, a 42-room hotel, approved by Aspen City Council in 2015.

Hunt’s vested rights on the land-use approval are set to expire in July, so he is asking council for an 18-month extension.

The matter was supposed to be discussed at Aspen City Council’s meeting Jan. 28, but a problem with public noticing forced the cancellation of the hearing.

But Councilman Bert Myrin did force some conversation when he asked Chris Bendon, Hunt’s land-use planner, if there was any truth to the rumors of workforce housing instead of a hotel.

Bendon confirmed it as a possibility that they’d like to pursue if given more time.

On Friday, Bendon said Hunt is looking at several properties downtown that he is considering for housing, including the Buckhorn Lodge property where the 17,260-square-foot hotel is planned.

The 1960s-building currently houses Bamboo Bear restaurant and Domino’s Pizza on the street level and apartments on the second floor.

“The plan is Base Lodge but there are other alternatives worth pursuing,” he said. “Affordable housing is a big need in this community and worth looking into.”

Hunt told the Aspen-Pitkin Housing Authority Board in December that he’d be coming forward with a proposal for 22 units in the downtown core, housing roughly 67 people in one- and three-bedroom apartments. He did not specify where those would be located.

Base 1 Hotel was approved with the understanding that the lodge units would be about 200 square feet, and the building would have a rooftop deck and 23 on-site subgrade parking spaces.

Approved interior programming for the building includes 4,592 square feet of commercial net leasable space for retail and restaurant uses.

The city’s Community Development planners have recommended giving Hunt a 12-month extension of vested rights because they are concerned that the hotel might not get built.

“If the applicant does not intend to build the approved Base 1 Lodge, then council should consider not approving the extension request or severely limiting the timeframe of a potential extension,” reads a memo from Community Development Director Jessica Garrow to council.

The public hearing has been rescheduled for Feb. 25.