As Aspen Valley Hospital continues to build the second phase of its expansion, it is simultaneously going through the City Hall approval process for the third and final portions that, if approved, would extend construction at least another four years.
AVH representatives presented their final design plans to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday. It was the second of what could be four meetings before a recommendation is made to Aspen City Council, which will then hold a few public hearings early next year before either approving or denying the master facilities plan.
AVH planners on Aug. 17 submitted the final planned-unit development application for phases three and four to the city of Aspen. The entire project received conceptual approval in 2009.
In what has been described as a highly complex phasing construction plan to maintain existing operations, some aspects of the project have changed since conceptual approval. Namely, there is additional square footage, fewer affordable housing units and more parking spaces.
But that’s primarily a function of the final design rounding out the entire campus, which will sit on 18 acres. With total estimated construction costs upwards of $150 million, the master plan is designed to address the hospital’s and the community’s needs for the next 35 years.
“To compare conceptual to today is not an apples-to-apples comparison,” said project planner Leslie Lamont.
She said the bulk of the 13,757 square feet added from conceptual to final design on the final phases is in the basement. An additional 8,000 square feet was added below grade to accommodate three mechanical units that were originally going to go on the roof. Included in that square footage is 3,000 square feet of shelf space for storage.
Also in the basement will be laundry services, information systems, the morgue, unfinished shell space, a meeting room and an auditorium.
Additional square footage in the final design also accounts for a garage for ambulances, which the conceptual plan only considered a carport at the emergency department entrance. The garage is another 3,336 square feet. Lamont said other minor reconfigurations of the hospital building make up the rest of the additional square footage.
Parking went from 339 spaces to 356. That’s because parking for Whitcomb Terrace next to the hospital and the project’s affordable housing was not considered in the conceptual plan.
The actual square footage of affordable housing being constructed is less than what was estimated during conceptual. Council during that review asked the project team to reduce the size and mass of the two employee housing buildings. That translated into four fewer units — from 22 to 18. And because the final design reduces the amount of medical offices by nearly 5,000 square feet, AVH is complying with the required ratio of affordable housing to development, Lamont said.
The entire facility is proposed to be 303,852 square feet, which includes the existing hospital and the new, three-level parking garage, which is part of phase two. The garage is done and the rest of phase two is expected to be completed by the end of next year, at the latest.
Phase one consisted of an expansion and remodel of the obstetrics ward. Phase two includes a two-story addition to the hospital, affordable housing, the parking garage, a loop service road, as well as road access and bus stop improvements. Hospital facilities in phase two include the expansion and renovation of inpatient areas, physical therapy and cardiopulmonary rehabilitation. The cafeteria also will be relocated to the front of the hospital and medical offices will be added.
Phases three and four include a two-story addition and a 19,000-square-foot basement. The greatest amount of expansion — about 33,000 square feet — is on the ground floor, abutting the west side of the existing building. The second-story addition includes 18,000 square feet of medical offices and related space.
Discussion among P&Z members and the project team at Tuesday’s meeting centered around concerns that arose during the first review, held Oct. 30.
Lamont said P&Z members did a site visit last week, as did neighbors of the development, to see what the facility’s lighting currently looks like at night and how future plans would take shape. Lighting is a big part of the equation because it’s a constant at AVH.
“The hospital is the only facility in Aspen open 24 hours a day,” she said.
Lamont recapped the P&Z meeting, and said hospital CEO Dave Ressler apologized to the board for the facility’s current outdoor lighting issues, explaining that in their effort to be energy efficient as possible, the LED bulbs employed are harsher than what was anticipated, particularly in the parking garage where there are gaps that emanate light into the sky.
A Boulder-based lighting consultant has been hired to help the project team come up with alternatives. Already being considered are installing shields around the bulbs, putting some fixtures on motion sensors and simply turning others off at night.
Light emitting from within the hospital is not as big of an issue since shades are put on automatic timers.
The team will present to P&Z findings from the consultant, and a plan for phases three and four.
Also discussed at Tuesday’s meeting was who will use the loop service road, which Lamont stressed is primarily to be used for emergency access, such as the fire department. Ambulances will use the dedicated garage that will be built as part of phase three and will use the main entrance to the hospital.
Height of the buildings, mechanical units on the roof and landscaping issues also were discussed at the P&Z meeting.
The project’s team will meet again with P&Z on Dec. 4. Another meeting, scheduled for Jan. 15, may be required before a recommendation is made to council.
The goal is to have the approvals in place so when the current phase is done next year, phase three can begin — most likely in early 2014.
“We don’t want to have to de-mobilize” construction, said Lamont. “It’s all very sequential.”
Assuming phases three and four are done concurrently, it will take about three-and-a-half years to complete the work, with an end date in 2017, said AVH spokeswoman Ginny Dyche.
“In an ideal world, we would move right into the next phase,” she said. “We have a lot of moving parts.”