Business Monday: Aspen Historic Preservation OKs scrape-and-replace project on restaurant row |

Business Monday: Aspen Historic Preservation OKs scrape-and-replace project on restaurant row

Shown above is the rendering of the building Beverly Hills, California-based Hillstone Restaurant Group plans to construct at 304 E. Hopkins Ave. To do so, it will raze the existing structure to make way for the building intended to house a new restaurant. The Aspen Historic Preservation Commission OKed the proposal at its last meeting Sept. 26.
Courtesy of BendonAdams

A national company won approval last week to tear down and replace a building on restaurant row in downtown Aspen.

Beverly Hills, California-based Hillstone Restaurant Group is eyeing the redevelopment of the Seguin Building at 304 E. Hopkins Ave., most recently home to Aspen Brewing Co. and Aspen Over Easy diner. The diner has since closed and the brewery has relocated to the corner of Galena Street and East Hopkins, which was previously anchored by Peach’s Corner Cafe.

Hillstone, which bought the building for $6 million from Chicago developer Mark Hunt in May 2017, also operates the neighboring White House Tavern at the corner Hopkins and Monarch Street.

Planner Chris Bendon, who is helping navigate Hillstone through the redevelopment process, said the new structure is “designed to be a restaurant,” adding that it won’t be an extension of the White House operation.

“It’s a completely different operation,” he said. “It’s completely unique with its own identity.”

The new building will have “an internal connection to the White House Tavern (302 E. Hopkins) on the ground level,” wrote Amy Simon, the city’s historic preservation officer, in a memo to the Aspen Historic Preservation Commission.

The commission on Wednesday unanimously approved Hillstone’s updated request, after two prior reviews to demolish the current structure and replace it with a one-story building and a basement.

While the existing building has no historic designations, it came under the HPC’s purview because it is located in the city’s Commercial Core Historic District.

At previous HPC meetings, board members registered concerns about the proposed new building’s design and proximity to the street. That prompted Hillstone to make changes that included eliminating a pitched roof porch at the front of the building and replacing it with a flat canopy. Other changes included the elimination of on-site housing; Hillstone will instead buy 21/2 affordable-housing credits from Aspen businessman Peter Fornell. The current building has two deed-restricted living units.

“This is more compatible with downtown,” Bendon told the HPC. “We think this is a good fit.”

The building will have net leasable space of 3,888 square feet, less than the 4,782 square feet in the existing structure, as well as a 13-foot, 71/2-inch setback from Hopkins. Also provided will be a 378-square-foot pedestrian amenity on the property’s south side, just over half the amount that is required. Hillstone will make a cash-in-lieu payment to the city to offset the deficiency.

HPC member Scott Kendrick called the latest rendition “night and day from the first presentation. It’s much more open, vibrant and welcoming. … I think you’ve addressed the issues.”

Aspen City Council has the option to call up the proposal. Should it not, the HPC’s decision will stand and launch the building-permit process.