Massive Lift One project at base of Aspen Mountain unveiled
ASPEN, Colorado ” Members of the public on Monday were given their first formal chance to scrutinize what would be the largest development project Aspen, Colorado has seen in decades.
The Aspen City Council held its first public hearing on the Lift One Master Plan, which proposes hundreds of thousands of square feet in commercial and residential space. The development would completely overhaul the historic Lift One neighborhood at the base of Aspen Mountain, bringing vitality to a dilapidated area of town, planners say.
It’s a proposal led by the four main property owners on the 8-acre site ” the city of Aspen, the Aspen Skiing Co., and the developers of two proposed hotels ” Roaring Fork Mountain Lodge-Aspen LLC., and Centurion Partners.
The plan includes two large hotels, retail shops, a brew pub, restaurants, affordable housing, a ski museum and other public spaces on both sides of South Aspen Street.
Despite its massiveness and high profile in the community, only a handful of residents commented on the master plan Monday night. Resident Toni Kronberg suggested that there will likely be lawsuits and a referendum attempting to overturn an affirmative vote by the council if several issues aren’t addressed first.
The Lift One Master Plan serves as a land-use application for the entire site. It was recently passed by a 27-member task force charged with creating a new development scheme for the area. The group had been meeting every week since April, collectively logging more than 2,000 hours toward the effort.
“There is no question that this is the largest project that has come before you,” said Bob Hoover, an attorney representing Mountain Queen condominiums. “These are massive buildings that will require massive [digging.]”
He added that when one considers the Wal-Mart in Glenwood Springs is smaller than one of the buildings proposed in the master plan, its largeness is “astounding.”
Hoover cautioned the council that site drainage in the area could be problematic because the area is unstable. He warned of massive mudslides.
Glenn Monigle, who lives on Gilbert Street, said he and his neighbors object to that road being used as access for service and construction vehicles. He said it’s only 15 feet wide and can’t handle that kind of load.
Bob Daniel, representing the Lift One Lodge, said he and his team are currently figuring out a way to appease the half-dozen residents who live on the street who would be affected.
A handful of task force members on Monday presented different aspects of the master plan to the council. Two council members ” Mayor Mick Ireland and Councilman Dwayne Romero ” served on the task force, leaving council members Steve Skadron and Jackie Kasabach as relative newcomers to the process. Councilman Jack Johnson has recused himself because, as a former resident of the Mine Dump Apartments, which were torn down earlier this year, he has the right to live in affordable housing on the site if the proposal is approved.
There are only three more public hearings on the application, scheduled for Nov. 24, Dec. 1 and Dec. 8, when the council is expected to make a decision on an ordinance approving the master plan. The Nov. 24 meeting will focus on the height and mass of the proposed buildings, as well as how much affordable housing will be provided.
The Lodge at Aspen Mountain, proposed by Centurion Partners, is now larger than what was shot down by the council last year. The mixed-use project is proposed at 191,000 square feet, as opposed to the 175,000 square feet originally brought forward. It would be 59 1/2 feet at its highest point; however, that takes into account the steep slope of the area.
There would be 75 lodge units, 26 fractional-ownership units, five free-market residential units, a maximum of 18,000 square feet of commercial space and a minimum of 238 underground parking spaces.
Across the street and slightly farther up the hill would be the Lift One Lodge, proposed by developers David Wilhelm, Jim Chaffin and Jim Light under the auspices of Roaring Fork Mountain Lodge-Aspen LLC. It’s proposed at 135,000 square feet and would be 55 1/2 feet at its highest point.
It would be a mixed-use membership lodge and whole-ownership project consisting of 35 lodge units, five free-market residential units, a maximum of 9,000 square feet of commercial space and 250 underground parking spaces.
The commercial space would include a public restaurant and bar, and facilities for the Aspen Skiing Co., including ticket sales, equipment rental, storage lockers, among other skier servicing facilities.
Daniel said adding the free-market component in the lodges would provide the funding to pay for the community benefits planned for the area.
The defunct Skiers Chalet Steak House building, also owned by the same partnership, would contain 1,052 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor and five dormitory affordable housing rooms on its second and third floors.
The Skier Chalet Lodge building would be relocated to Willoughby Park, where it could be used for a historical museum, affordable housing or affordable commercial space.
The Lift One Lodge would generate the equivalent of 53.5 employees, and the developers have committed to house 40 of them, or 75 percent.
The Lodge at Aspen Mountain plans to generate 166 employees, of which it has committed to housing 125 people, which also is 75 percent.
Up to 40 percent of both hotels’ employees could be housed at Burlingame Ranch. Both developers have said they would contribute financially to the Burlingame Ranch project in order to house some of their workers there.
On-site rental housing for the Lodge at Aspen Mountain would consist of 15 dormitory housing units, with two people in each of them. Just below the hotel on Deane Street, there would be seven studios, four one-bedrooms, two two-bedrooms and two three-bedroom units. The Lodge at Aspen Mountain also will have for-sale units at the Airport Business Center, where 27 employees would live.
The entire area includes three access zones: A ski path running from the bottom of Lift 1A through the historic Lift One area and Willoughby Park. A platter-pull lift would start where the existing terminal of the historic Lift One chair is located in Willoughby Park, and take riders slightly above and left of a new, high-speed quad Lift 1A, to be set 150 feet farther uphill.
To the west of that, a dedicated pedestrian walkway would lead up to the base of Lift 1A. At the top of the pathway, just below the lift, a short escalator would run up through a corner of the Lift One Lodge to carry skiers to the base of the new lift.
Farther west and separated by a greenbelt, or garden area, would be a realigned 22-foot-wide, snow-melted South Aspen Street for vehicle access to both hotels. The entire area would be accessed by a dedicated arrival and drop-off zone at the intersection of Dean and South Aspen streets. Parking garages would be placed under South Aspen Street, Willoughby Park and both hotels.