Boutique hotel conversion in works for Aspen’s Crystal Palace building |

Boutique hotel conversion in works for Aspen’s Crystal Palace building

Developer Mark Hunt’s boutique-hotel project pegged for the old Crystal Palace building in downtown Aspen has cleared the land-use approval process and now awaits the city’s blessing of its building-permit application.

An application filed in October with the city’s Building Department shows a development project that will cost $12 million and include 36,516 square feet of new development.

“No date (to begin construction) has been set,” Hunt’s planner on the redevelopment, Chris Bendon, said Monday. Bendon added that the goal is to get it going “as soon as possible” this year.

Hunt did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Among Hunt’s plans for the space are 16 rooms on the upper floors and a 4,950-square-foot restaurant and kitchen on the ground-floor level. The lower level calls for a fitness center, restrooms, locker areas and a guest lounge.

Fourteen of the guest rooms would be on the building’s second floor, averaging nearly 500 square feet, and two suites would be located on a third floor that would include an outdoor pool, cabana and service bar.

The project encompasses two addresses: The two-level Crystal Palace building is located at 300 E. Hyman Ave., next to a one-story building at 312 E. Hyman Ave., which Hunt bought for $12.5 million in September 2013.

In the meantime, some commercial tenants already have begun to vacate the Hunt-owned spaces in the building set for redevelopment.

The two ground-level establishments in Hunt’s property, however, are holding firm for now.

“This building is supposed to come down, and we all know that,” said Andrew Sandler, who operates the Bootsy Bellows nightclub.

“He’s been very fair to us way in advance,” said Robert Cypher, owner of the Testosterone men’s store. “We have known it isn’t a permanent deal, but hopefully we’ll have to the end of April.”

The project’s major development and commercial design review won approval from the Historic Preservation Commission in a 7-0 vote Feb. 8. The HPC was the deciding body because the 300 E. Hyman Ave. building is landmark-designated and also located in the city’s Commercial Historic District. The 312 E. Hyman Ave. spot was constructed in 1970.

The older building’s ground-floor walls facing Hyman Avenue and Monarch Street contain material from 1891, when the structure was erected, meaning they are off limits to development.

The project will be held to a number of design guidelines, ranging from the materials used to minimizing the appearance of the third floor.

The building originally served as a distribution center for wholesale produce, later becoming the headquarters for the city’s biggest employer, Midnight Mine Co., in the 1930s.

It later morphed into the Crystal Palace dinner theater in the 1960s under the ownership of Mead Metcalf, and was a popular spot until he closed it in the mid-2000s.