Aspen, Colorado: Today, Erik Cavarra features an article related to the Aspen Daily News.
Developers argue that condos in Boomerang would be rented nightly
After city officials criticized a plan for the long-vacant Boomerang Lodge site as too much free market condo for too little hotel room, the developers have tweaked the proposal to more closely balance the two.
The most recent plan, submitted late last week, encompasses about 11,800 square feet of hotel rooms broken up into 56 units and 16,800 square feet of free market condos in 12 units. A plan submitted this spring had the ratio at 10,464 square feet in 45 hotel rooms to 23,104 square feet of condos, of which there would have been 16. The proposed building in both cases would be just over 40,000 square feet in total floor area.
A Planning and Zoning Commission hearing on the plan set for June 17 was postponed until July 1, following a recommendation from the city’s community development office that the Boomerang application be substantially changed or denied.
“The proposal for a free market residential project with a lodge component that is mostly three stories with a four-story tower does not provide a community benefit or appropriate trade-offs that warrant the proposed dimensions,” says a memo from Sara Adams, senior planner for the city, in advance of the June 17 meeting.
The Boomerang, located on the 500 block of West Hopkins Avenue, operated as a ski lodge from the 1960s until it was mostly torn down in 2007. The city approved a hotel redevelopment plan in 2006, but developers lost their financing in the recession. An idea to build affordable housing on the site instead attracted a lawsuit from neighbors in 2011.
Last fall, developers reworked the Boomerang concept, pitching it as an economy lodge, because the hotel rooms would be around 225 square feet in average size instead of 400 to 500 square feet, as the initial plan contemplated. That 2006 plan included five free market condos that would have been around 2,100 square feet each.
Read full article here:
James DeFrancia, whose firm Lowe Enterprises is partnering with project owner Alex Brown Realty of Maryland on the Boomerang, said that a wide majority of the free market condos would be part of the nightly rental pool. He cited The Gant, which Lowe developed and still runs nearly 40 years later, as an example. Those units are individually owned, but 87 percent are in the nightly rental pool, he said.
The “modest” 1,400-square-foot size of the proposed Boomerang condos “speaks to the motivation of the owner to rent it, to offset the costs of ownership,” DeFrancia said. Conversely, larger, more luxurious units tend to be more lightly occupied, because the owners are there more often, or because they are investment properties where nightly rental revenue is not of great concern, he said.
With the 56 units, some of which could be combined to make larger rooms, and the two- to four-bedroom condos, the Boomerang would offer a wide variety of room types, DeFrancia said.
With limited amenities and services planned for the hotel, it would wind up being one of the least expensive places in town to rent a room, he said. No one disagrees that Aspen needs more lower-priced lodging options, he said.
The 2007 demolition left intact the original entrance wing of the hotel, which would be preserved in the new construction.
DeFrancia said he hopes to get the project in front of City Council before the end of the summer.