Owners of the MasonMorse building on Hyman Avenue in downtown Aspen are asking for a voluntary historic designation, as well as permission to build a new third-floor penthouse.
Located at 514 E. Hyman Ave., across the street from Little Annie’s Eating House, the 1971 Mason Morse building was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright-trained Aspen architect Robin Molny in a modernist style. In a 1990 remodel, the building’s facade was redone with stone, obscuring Molny’s original design concept. The building’s owner, Mason and Morse, Inc., is proposing to restore the building’s facade to its previous modernist form.
The building serves as the offices for the MasonMorse real estate firm.
In exchange for the voluntary historic designation, the applicant is asking to be able to build a 1,900-square-foot third story condo on top of the existing two-story building. Underlying zoning would normally limit the condo to just under 1,500 square feet. The condo would be set back 15 feet from the roofline of the second story.
“The increased free-market residential FAR requested in this application is the primary catalyst for the restoration of this Robin Molny building,” planning consultant Mitch Haas wrote in his application on behalf of the landowner. “Without approval of this incentive request the restoration work will not be feasible.”
The Historic Preservation Commission on Jan. 25 passed the plan on conceptual approval, and city staff considers the building “a ‘best’ example of the modernist style in Aspen (except for the recent stone veneer, the building has not been greatly altered since construction),” city historic preservation officer Amy Guthrie wrote in a memo.
“We appreciate them going through the process,” Guthrie said at a preliminary council hearing on the proposal Monday night. “This is an important building.”
Council will hold a public hearing on the plan March 12.