Armory Building

The city’s building department will move into the city hall armory building, after the county’s community development staff left the space for newly built county offices on Main Street.

The city of Aspen’s office space shuffle is about to begin, thanks to Pitkin County’s community development department moving out of city hall and into the county’s newly remodeled and expanded administration building on Main Street.

That leaves open roughly 1,800 square feet on the third floor of the historic city hall armory — empty desks sharing half the floor with the city’s community development department, also known as the planning office.

The city’s building department will move up from its current, rented digs at the The Mill, which is the recently completed office and residential building at the corner of Bleeker and North Mill streets.

“That is probably the only moving piece of this thing I can confirm,” said Scott Miller, the city’s public works director.

Jessica Garrow, the director of the community development, of which building is a sub-department, said it makes sense to have building and planning together in the same office. Engineers, architects and contractors regularly work with both teams.

“We are very excited to have building and planning together,” she said.

The city is not sure yet who will move into the vacated space at The Mill, which will continue to house the engineering department. Staff from the capital asset department is working on potential designs for the soon-to-be-freed-up space, Miller said.

One contender for the space is the Aspen Pitkin County Housing Authority, which is located in rented offices on the 200 block of East Hyman Avenue. The lease on the space is up in May, according to APCHA director Mike Kosdrosky, and if it is renewed, the agency has budgeted $91,500 to cover lease and related costs in 2020.

The Mill, as well, is rented space, but it still has another two or three years on the lease, Miller said.

The city’s transportation and special events departments are located in a city-owned home on Sixth and Main streets, making them contenders to move into the space in the downtown core.

There are others, according to Miller.

“There are people who might be involved in this move that don’t even know about it yet,” Miller said.

The move involving the third floor of city hall and The Mill building is the first of many, stretching out over the next three to five years, that will affect city employees.

The voters of Aspen are about six weeks away from deciding which of two options they prefer as the city goes about developing new office space. The city has been planing the move for years, in order to get out of a situation where departments are housed in rented space or in far-flung city owned buildings.

“Option A,” as it’s titled on the ballot, is to purchase around 27,000 square feet between two Hopkins Avenue buildings — one of which has yet to be built — from developer Mark Hunt, for $32.5 million.

“Option B,” at a cost now estimated at $26.1 million — nearly $4 million more than before it was delayed due to litigation — would have the city build about 37,000 square feet on land it owns adjacent to the Rio Grande parking garage, between Galena Plaza and Rio Grande Park.

Under both scenarios, the city will undertake a remodel of the historic armory building after the new offices are ready. Tentative plans have city employees housed in the armory move into the new space while the remodel is underway, then putting all the piece back together when the armory is done. Some departments may move two times or more.

At Monday’s city council meeting, city officials announced that they would release on Tuesday information related to an appraisal of one of the buildings — 517 E. Hopkins Ave. — the city would buy from Hunt. Council members directed staff to prepare an appraisal for the second building, at 204 S. Galena St., as well.

Curtis Wackerle is the editor of Aspen Daily News. He can be reached at curtis@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @CurtisWackerle.