City to consider cash option for civic plaza

Aug 14, 2017

A rendering of the new development on Galena Plaza shows a sliver of the Aspen mountain view plane.
Credit City of Aspen

 The Aspen City Council is scheduled to consider three different funding options for the construction of city offices at Galena Plaza in a work session on Tuesday.

Last month, assistant finance director Pete Strecker presented the council with two options for taking out loans to finance the $23 million development. Now, he is recommending a third scenario - paying cash.

The city has been saving funds for years in anticipation of renovations needed for the century-old Armory Building that serves as City Hall. The proposal is to use that savings, along with a $5 million loan from the city-managed Wheeler Opera House fund to build Civic Plaza and figure out Armory renovations at a later date.

Executive director of the Wheeler Opera House Gena Buhler said the art organization has a healthy fund, predicted to top out at $40 million within the decade. She said the Wheeler can afford to help out.

“It's sort of a nice thing that we've been able to do,” said Buhler. “This is an easy way to support everything else that the city is doing.”

The other financing options to be discussed Tuesday include bonds that would need voter approval, or an election skirt-around that would provide municipal loans for a higher interest rate.

The work session begins at 4 p.m.