More Development Proposals Land Before Aspen Election

May 4, 2015

Aspen City Hall
Credit aspenpitkin.com

Another development application has been submitted for a downtown building in Aspen. Already five projects have been turned into the city in advance of tomorrow’s election when a change in the charter amendment could affect projects getting approval. Aspen Public Radio’s Carolyn Sackariason reports.    

Downtown landlord Mark Hunt is under contract to purchase the old Guido’s Swiss Inn, as well as the structure next to it, known as the Salmon building because of its color. Both are on the Cooper Avenue Mall.

Hunt’s land use planner Mitch Haas filed an application to demolish the Salmon building and replace it with a three level commercial building that would stand 28 feet tall. There are no current plans to alter the Guido’s building, which currently houses Casa Tua and an art gallery. The two buildings share a corridor that connects them.              

The project would need a variance from the city’s land use code because it is in the Wheeler Opera House and Wagner Park view planes. Hunt has filed two other development applications for downtown buildings that also need view plane variances. Hunt wouldn’t have filed them so quickly if it weren’t for referendum 1, which if it passes Tuesday, would trigger a public vote for approval. Current land use rules apply at the time the application is submitted so Hunt would not be required to ask the public for approval. Amy Simon is the city’s historic preservation officer.

“As I understand it, referendum 1 would cause certain projects, if they requested variances related to height, floor area, affordable housing in particular, would potentially need to be approved by the voters before they can be constructed. So we are seeing some projects coming in that have those sort of variances associated with them that they’ve been submitted before election day.”

Hunt also plans to pay more than a half a million dollars in lieu of 20 required parking spaces. The project will be reviewed by the city’s historic preservation commission. The city council has the authority to call up the HPC’s decision.