With construction season still in full throttle, some major changes are underway, including at two highly visible corners of downtown Aspen, while behind-the-scenes planning has intensified at the base of Lift 1A. Here’s the rundown on the most prominent redevelopment projects in Aspen.
Driving down Main Street, it’s impossible to miss the construction fencing and heavy equipment next to the Hotel Jerome, where an $11 million-plus project is underway to enhance the courtyard, replace the pool, and refurbish the historic Aspen Times building into a barbershop and speakeasy lounge. What’s less visible from Main Street is a new addition to the hotel directly behind the old Times building. When complete, the hotel will have five new guest rooms with nine keys, increasing its capacity to 98 lodge units comprising 102 rooms. Construction is expected to continue through at least the end of the year, with the courtyard and pool anticipated to be ready by December, and the Aspen Times building amenities to open in February.
On Durant Avenue, a tall, thick sound fence surrounds the old Sky Hotel site, as that hotel was demolished earlier this summer to make way for a brand-new W Hotel and residence project. Approved by the city in 2015, plans call for owner Northridge Capital to build an 88-room hotel plus 11 fractional-ownership residences, along with a public rooftop pool and lounge and bar. Ranging from 1550 to 2000 sq ft, the residences include five 2-bedrooms and six 3-bedrooms to debut, along with the completed hotel, in the first quarter of 2019.
Further east, on the edge of town, the 20 Aspen Club Residences continue to take shape. Along with a total renovation of the main club, the brand new residences are part of a wellness community that “creates the opportunity for transformative living,” according to Aspen Club owner Michael Fox. Fourteen of the residences will be complete by year’s end: 10 three-bedroom townhouses of around 2000 sq ft and 4 four-bedroom townhouses of 2700 sq ft, being sold in monthly 1/12th fractions.
Meanwhile, at the base of Lift 1A, construction continues on the 14 One Aspen luxury townhomes, with the first phase of five near completion and the rest scheduled to be delivered by the end of the year. Further up Aspen Street, however, the action is behind the scenes.
The pause button was hit this spring on the Gorsuch Haus hotel proposal while its principals began a series of meetings with representatives of the adjacent, approved-but-unbuilt Lift One Lodge, along with City of Aspen and Aspen Skiing officials, to try to resolve an impasse about the new base lift. City officials and others are hoping to see the high-speed lift load lower down the mountain than plans call for (which is actually 66 feet further upslope than where it loads now). Some are asking for the lift to come all the way down to Dean Street, a scenario which thus far has not proved feasible.
Once the parties conclude their talks — with the help of a consulting firm hired by the city to look at the public access and transportation options — Gorsuch Haus developers will resubmit an amended application for their proposal, according to partner Bryan Peterson. The team received very positive feedback for design changes they’d proposed to City Council in late March, and the resubmitted application would reflect those.
As currently envisioned, the plan calls for a 75-room hotel and four 2000 sq ft condos with full hotel amenities. To ensure a lively base area, the Gorsuch Haus building will also house a slopeside restaurant with generous outdoor deck space, skier services, lockers, and other amenities. If the development team, which also includes retailer Jeff Gorsuch and Lowe Enterprises, receives conceptual approval this fall, the land-use process could conclude in time to start building in the fall of 2018 or spring of 2019.
Lift One Lodge, which is also required to pitch in financially on the lift, in May received a one-year extension to start construction on the fractional private residence club that was originally approved in 2011. Should the idea of a lower lift terminal prevail, the project’s design may have to be significantly altered. Currently, Lift One Lodge is approved for 22 fractional units and five wholly-owned condos, totaling 84 potential short-term rental rooms. The project also includes renovating the old Skier’s Chalet lodge building into a ski history museum and turning the Skier’s Chalet Steakhouse into affordable housing, along with some 20,000 square feet of commercial space.