The owners of Sky Hotel filed a proposal with the city of Aspen on Monday to tear down the three-story lodge and replace it with a four-story hotel.
The current owners of Sky Hotel are proposing to demolish the existing lodge — located at 709 E. Durant Ave. — and construct a 95,643-square-foot, mixed-use, 40-foot-tall building in its place.
The proposed structure would have 94 hotel rooms, three rooms with bunk beds, three fractional-ownership units, eight free-market residential apartments, five affordable housing units and an underground garage with 70 parking spaces. The project also includes “an expansive rooftop deck” with a public pool, bar and lounge area.
Aspen Club Lodge Properties LLC, which has owned the building since 2001, has been working on the proposal since January, said John Sarpa, a developer working on the project. Sarpa has been involved with numerous hotel applications over 25-plus years in Aspen.
The goal of the proposed project is to build more affordable hotel rooms while maintaining the lodge’s reputation of attracting a young, apres-ski crowd, Sarpa said. In 2006, Playboy Magazine named the Sky North America’s “sexiest ski lodge,” with its leopard-print bathrobes and public pool at the base of Aspen Mountain.
“There is no other public pool bar in Aspen — period,” Sarpa said.
The developers have shared the proposed hotel with the property’s neighbors in an effort to get feedback. A number of them have objected to the project’s height, Sarpa said. Condo properties Chateau Chaumont and Chateau Dumont are on the east side of Sky Hotel and The Little Nell hotel is located on the west side of it.
As proposed, the roof would be 40 feet high, and there also would be the possibility of temporary rooftop structures around the pool and lounge areas. Conversations between the neighbors are ongoing, Sarpa said.
Jordan Curet/Aspen Daily News
The Sky land-use application comes as Aspen City Council is in the middle of reviewing a broad lodging incentive program aimed at encouraging new hotel development and refurbishment. The program would increase height limits on buildings in the city’s lodge and residential multi-family zone districts; reduce affordable housing mitigation requirements for lodging developers; and allow for more free-market residential units to be built as a part of the projects. Those incentives would be granted if developers provide affordable lodging.
Based on preliminary reviews of the application, Jessica Garrow, the city’s long-range planner, said she is optimistic about the fact that the proposal adds 12 new lodge rooms to Aspen’s inventory.
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“One purpose of the potential lodge incentive program is to see invigorated and upgraded lodges; another is to replenish our declining bed base,” Garrow wrote in an email. “From that perspective, we are looking forward to reviewing the application.”
The redevelopment of the Sky Hotel has been a long time coming, Sarpa said.
“They’re really at an end-point with the building itself,” Sarpa said of the owners. “It just can’t be renovated anymore.”
About nine years ago, the hotel’s owners proposed to tear down the existing 42,000-square-foot lodge and rebuild it at four stories and 100,000 square feet. The plan would have kept the number of lodge rooms at 90 while adding 10 free-market condos and three affordable housing units. The project was stalled, however, during the planning and zoning review when commission members were split on approving it; eventually developers gave up on the project.
The city will begin the review of the application this summer with the first planning and zoning meeting tentatively set for Aug. 19, according to Garrow. After that, the application will go before City Council for review.