Developers will unveil updated plans for a hotel at the base of Aspen Mountain, while elected officials will also discuss new zoning regulations for the downtown core at tonight’s Aspen City Council meeting.
The possibility of a hotel on a 2.4-acre site on South Aspen Street near Lift 1A has been debated for a decade, but the city’s planning department suggests that tonight’s discussion could be crucial in determining whether such a plan will move forward. Recently, the ownership group ASV Aspen Street Owner has presented plans for 84,000 square feet of hotel development, encompassing 76 rooms, on the bottom of the site in a three- and four-story building. The upper portion of the site would be developed into two buildings totaling 86,000 square feet containing 35 whole-ownership, free-market condos.
The prevalence of free market condos on the site caused concern for some on council at a meeting last month, since the city’s goal with the development is to create “hot beds” that regularly turn over with tourists visiting town.
A memo written in advance of tonight’s meeting from the city’s planning department does not say how the developers have altered their proposal, but it says that changes to be presented will be “necessary for a lodging project to move forward.”
“Although staff has not seen the proposed changes, staff expects that the changes will be a significant departure from the current proposal,” says the memo, written by community development director Chris Bendon, which adds that the applicant may not be proposing specific amendments “as much as conveying the overall magnitude of changes that are needed.”
In 2003, City Council approved a plan to develop 14 townhomes and 17 affordable housing units on the site, but the city would rather see a hotel there, since it is perhaps the last undeveloped in-town location where a hotel would be possible. The previous developers, prior to filing for bankruptcy in 2009, had brought forward numerous hotel plans that were twice voted down by City Council over size and massing concerns. The new developers, who acquired the site in 2010, can build the townhomes if a hotel plan doesn’t work out.
Also on Monday’s meeting agenda are land-use code amendments for the downtown core. Council in April downzoned the core, capping building heights at 28 feet, or two stories, when prior rules allowed up to 42 feet. Since then, council has been debating under what circumstances, if any, new buildings larger than two stories should be allowed.
Consensus on this topic has been difficult to achieve. Prior council direction has been that free market residential condos should be limited; lodging should be encouraged; and affordable housing is an “appropriate use” for the downtown, according to a planning department memo written in advance of the meeting. Staff will present council with a variety of options for zoning changes at the meeting.
Next year’s fees for city services also will be presented at the meeting. Among the changes are price increases for some of the season passes at the Aspen Golf Club.
The meeting starts at 5 p.m. in the basement of City Hall.