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Thu October 17, 2013
Aspen: Out with the old, in with the New.
It's off season. The Ferrari drivers are back home in Houston or Miami or Dallas or NYC or LA or where ever they go. It's been snowing (see previous post below). Town is quiet. Mornings are cold which makes Wagner Park an excellent place to be... just as the sun peeks over Smuggler Mountain.
I love the smell of POW POW in the morning.
This morning, one of my other senses was ignited. I hate the sound of construction in the morning. Early mornings, just as Aspen wakes from her sleep, are a beautiful & quiet time. Today the sound of BIG MACHINERY pierced the air. It wasn't the garden variety dump trucks and pick ups. These were the industrial sized bull dozers and cranes and dumpers you see in a major city. But Aspen is not a major city, it's small resort town at the end of the road. Why some people insist on bringing their big city problems to Aspen I'll never know.
Oh yeah, I do know. It's the triple headed hydra of GREED, EGO and POWER.
I get it. Some people want to make as much money as possible. They keep score in dollars. Some people want to build monuments to themselves. Some people will do almost anything to win. Some people don't understand history, or the concept of negative space or the phrase "less is more". Understated or low key as discriptors are not relevant to them. Old money is quiet, new money is loud. "Do you know who I am???" "Really? do you know who I am???"
Aspen as a ski town has always been a glamorous place. We have a long history of rich guys who have come and gone...trying to make their mark in Fat City. The current generation of "build it and they will come" developers hail mostly from the financial world. Trader types, money men, flippers. Based on my observations, it seems like they want to dig the biggest MF-ing hole they can, push floor area ratios to the max,.and shhhhhhh even go over a few feet if they can sneak it by the inspectors. They want to build out every square inch of the town. They're already rich...but they want to get richer.
I wanted to see what all the noise was about so Carmelo and I strolled past the construction site of the new Aspen Art Museum. Two streets were closed, barricades were everywhere. 7 or 8 huge trucks sat idling in the (closed) street. We kept on stepping, we passed the "road closed" signs and humongous hole in the ground on the next corner, at least it's completely fenced in. In the middle of the next block we came upon a very sad sight. LITTLE ANNIE'S EATING HOUSE was shuttered. Seized by the State of Colorado for unpaid taxes. Little Annie's owes $44.5K and must pay before Oct 29 or their assets will be auctioned off. Apparently they have no lease going forward, so it looks like it might be curtains for Little Annie's.
That bums me out. A fleet of bulldozers bums me out.
Does our non-collecting Art Museum really require 30,000 square feet. Maybe they need a building that large just to have a home for all the names to be engraved on the wall. Does anyone in Aspen need another luxury penthouse? Based on recent history it will either sit empty for a long time or maybe it'll get purchased by non-thinking gapers who will sue, sue , sue. Noise violations, blocking public access, parking problems, overflowing trash bins, the bears, barking dogs. You name it The potential for lawsuits is only limited by one's imagination.
So that's it. Out with the old, in with the new. Can't wait for the new roof-top restaurant...waaaay better than The Gap. Hellz yeah...it's another store selling $7500 coats from Italy, buy me one daddy...pleeeease. So sweeeeet, Van Cleef and Arpels is doing a pop-up....yeSSSSS!!!. That's how we roll in Aspen now. Pop ups and empty penthouses. Oh, and the city has a few projects going too. There's the $3 million bathroom in Rio Grande Park right next to the "non-permanent" Theatre Aspen structure. The $5 million bus stop at Ruby Park is on tap, soon And the debate about a proposed parking structure under Wagner Park is just getting started.
Some call it progress, some call it an improvement, some say a World class resort should have World class buildings. I'm not going to argue about that. But I still see plenty of empty commercial spaces and a revolving door of pop-up shops and empty penthouses. It's not messy vitality...its just messy...and sad. There is a bright side of all this next-gen development. You'll never see any of these new people up on the hill, because none of them ski. Maybe its because there is no conveneint place to park their Ferrari's.
Aspen Spin is Andrew M. Israel.
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