With the blessing of HPC, Aspen online to get more housing for workers

Affordable housing developers are appealing the rejection of their proposal for the five-unit complex at 1020 E Cooper Ave. in Aspen. (Kelsey Brunner / The Aspen Times)

The proposed redevelopment of a historically marked East Cooper Avenue property into four designated living units for Aspen employees won unanimous support from the Historic Preservation Commission on Wednesday.

By eliminating one unit and reducing the size and scale of a proposed worker housing complex at 1020 E. Cooper Ave., located on the outskirts of downtown and three blocks from the City Market, the demand The development team’s revision not only tipped the balance of support on the HPC, it also gained verbal support from the condominium association which had continued the project approval process.

Jim DeFrancia, who is co-developing the property with his partner Jean Coulter, called previous comments from the public and HPC “valuable” in making the necessary adjustments to get the proposal accepted. At the HPC’s hearing on the demand on August 25, the board was split 2-2, with dissident members Roger Moyer and Jodi Surfa saying they could not support him due to concerns about his size and size.

DeFrancia said on Wednesday that he would have liked five units to be approved, but “we still provide very good quality affordable housing in a great location.”

Project developers have touted the proposal as desperately needed for Aspen as the availability of housing for workers is greatly limited and even exacerbated due to the pandemic and escalating house prices and rents.

“We all know that; we all feel it,” said Sara Adams of Aspen BendonAdams, the planning representative for the project.

The four deed-restricted units will have 12 bedrooms – one 2 bedroom unit, two 3 bedroom units and one 4 bedroom unit. Including storage space, the four units will combine to cover 4,545 square feet.

Two of the units, one with two bedrooms and the other with three, will be located in the existing historic structure on the property – a 19th century miner’s hut that once owned and lived in Aspen Times columnist Su Lum. The cabin will be moved to allow the addition of a basement to the property.

“The existing house, with the exception of a non-historic porch at the back, must be moved approximately 11 ft forward and 2 ft east,” according to a note to the town planner’s CHP. Kevin Rayes and Director of Planning Amy Simon. “It will be placed on a new basement and will be raised slightly above the current relationship with the ground to allow for the creation of positive drainage.”

The memo added: “Staff believe that the relocation criteria are met as the repositioning of the building on the site does not diminish its integrity or disrupt its relationship to nearby historic resources and it allows new construction on the site to occur. be far enough away from the miner’s chalet while respecting all setback requirements.

Behind the hut, a stand-alone building with two units would be constructed, while the two non-historic sheds at the rear of the property would be demolished. Two car parks are also planned for the development.

The two-story rear building with the two units will peak at 23 feet, 8.5 inches, a reduction from the tallest version of what had been a three-unit structure proposed to measure 29 feet, 8.5 inches .

Moyer was unable to attend the meeting due to a personal issue that left Surfa on the board with the two CHP members who voted in favor of the project at the August meeting – Kara Thompson and Jeffrey Halferty. Board member Peter Fornell withdrew from the ongoing proceedings due to a dispute, along with first deputy Sheri Sanzone.

This time, however, Surfa seemed happy with the changes to the app.

“I was very happy to see this package (with the revised project request), the changes that have been made,” she said. “I think this is a big improvement and I fully support the current design.”

Halftery and Thompson also didn’t hesitate in their support.

“I think it’s an improvement over what we’ve seen before,” said Thompson, “so I’m also very happy with the changes.”

Previous CHP hearings on the issue – held on January 13, February 17 and August – have met with strong opposition from neighbors. Yet not this time.

“With this mass and scale reduced in this amended application, the neighbors I represent are in agreement, as long as these conditions are met and respected,” said Chris Bryan, an attorney for the Cooper Avenue Victorian Condominium Association. , a collection of condo owners who live adjacent to the property.

The outcome of the February 17 hearing, which resulted in a 3-1 denial of the proposal, was overturned after Aspen City Council, responding on April 19 to a call from the development team, concluded that the HPC was biased in its decision-making. to treat. The city council’s decision to refer the case to the CHP also sparked a dispute from neighbors against the project.

With the proposal before the HPC again in August, neighbors generally remained against it, and the board couldn’t reach consensus either.

However, this showdown is over for the moment. The disputes were dismissed and the HPC blessing on Tuesday covered approvals for major concept development, relocation, demolition, growth management, affordable housing certificate, transportation and parking management. The final design will still have to go through the approval process.

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