Aspen Times: Future of Aspen Mountain’s Lift 1A spins into next phase of study

Aspen Times: Future of Aspen Mountain’s Lift 1A spins into next phase of study

Aspen City Council agreed Tuesday to continue its pursuit of moving the 1A chairlift, located at the base of Aspen Mountain's west side, as close to town as possible.

That now comes in the form of drilling down two scenarios that were presented by the consulting firm, SE Group. Last October, SE presented to council nine options for replacing lift 1A. Two have been selected, with modifications.

A more detailed study by SE will consider the merits of the first option, which would extend the lift south of Gilbert Street. The second lift scenario brings it down farther, extending it south of Dean Street and just uphill from the historic Lift One terminal.

But council also added two of its own options — a possible mid-loading station where the current 1A chairlift is located, along with the Dean Street scenario. First suggested by Councilman Ward Hauenstein last fall, a mid station would allow for repeat skiing on that side of the mountain. However, Aspen Skiing Co.'s position is that the area is too narrow to accommodate a loading station and still provide an adequate guest and skiing experience.

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Aspen Daily News: Paved paradise and took out a parking lot

Aspen Daily News: Paved paradise and took out a parking lot

Paved paradise and took out a parking lot

By Lorenzo Semple, Nov 24, 2017

We all saw it coming. There were diagrams, multiple points of view, planners, consultants and even community open houses. But when you witness something in person for the first time that’s been talked about incessantly for the past 10 years, that’s when the cold, stark reality hits. Now all the parking on the street leading up to Lift 1A is gone. The immediate effect this year will be a deserted 1A, more congestion on Durant Avenue and a bigger skier-parking crunch around the base of Aspen Mountain.

A lot of people are in for a big “WTF?!” gut punch when they first see it. Gone are the days of driving up Aspen Street, parking in the precariously angled slots and walking up to old, reliable 1A. It’s part of a disturbing trend that been happening for quite some time. We are hemorrhaging free two-hour parking spaces in town and around Ajax at an alarming rate.

OK, to be fair, not all the parking on the 1A hill of Aspen Street is gone. There are still four spaces barely clinging to life at the very bottom —two on the left, two on the right. Still, it’s a devastating loss of over 50 coveted two-hour parking spots. To add insult to injury, what looks to be a shuttle pullout (the bowl-cat of Ajax) to take people unwilling/incapable of walking up a plainly inhospitable Aspen Street has absolutely devastated the Dean Street two-hour parking lot, cutting off at least half of it’s previous capacity.

Between Aspen Street and Dean Street, that’s 70 spaces up in smoke. The effect this will have is pushing all of that parking into the residential areas around the base of 1A. If you live over there, get psyched for that!

The latest parking grab is perhaps the most painful for those who frequented 1A, and it’s important to use the past tense here because at times there will now be nowhere to park. It’s hard to imagine skiers parking over by the Koch Lumber Park and walking all the way up to 1A, but that’s going to have to be the new trend.

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Aspen Times: Gorsuch Haus developers keep project in front of public

Aspen Times: Gorsuch Haus developers keep project in front of public

Gorsuch Haus developers keep project in front of public

Rick Carroll, June 6, 2017

The St. Mortiz Lodge is home to signs speaking out against the Gorsuch Haus' proposed lift location on Aspen Mountain.

While the City Council runoff is set Tuesday, June 6, another campaign is being waged about the future of the Lift 1A side of Aspen Mountain.

The Gorsuch Haus proposal, as it stands, won't go before Aspen's electorate, with its fate likely up to the City Council. Still, Gorsuch Haus organizers are seeking an opinion from Aspen's court of public opinion through a mass mailing they sent out late last month. More than 2,700 fliers were mailed to registered voters who live in Aspen to gauge their level of support for the project.

"We realize that not everyone watches the City Council meetings (on GrassRoots Community Television) and don't read the papers, and we want to get out in front of it and let people have the opportunity to show us support, or not show support," said project spokesman Allyn Harvey.

The flier asks residents to respond with the options that they are satisfied with the current design, are undecided, or cannot support the Gorsuch Haus under any conditions.

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Aspen Times: Aspen City Council tables Gorsuch Haus

Aspen Times: Aspen City Council tables Gorsuch Haus

Aspen City Council tables Gorsuch Haus

Rick Carroll/The Aspen Times

March 27, 2017

The Aspen City Council heard another round of public feedback over the Gorsuch Haus proposal Monday and decided again that it needs more time to make a decision on the polarizing project.

Developer Norway Island LLC returned to City Council Chambers with a revised land-use application that cuts down the 67-room hotel property's overall size and scale to the satisfaction of its supporters but not its opponents.

"If we can agree on the big idea, then the details can be filled in, and we will get them right," said Jeff Gorsuch of Norway Island. "The big idea represents the (Lift) 1A side of town, but also the whole community."

Themes emerging from  three hours of comments from resident after resident, as well as even relatives of Gorsuch, included the often-heard arguments that either the western side of Aspen Mountain needs to be rejuvenated or the hotel would negatively impact the quaint area.

According to a tally from the public relations firm representing Gorsuch, 17 people spoke in favor of the proposal, nine were against it, and six held neutral positions.

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End DormANTcy at 1A

End DormANTcy at 1A

While Gorsuch Haus is a critical piece in the puzzle of revitalizing the west portal to Aspen Mountain, the entire area must be viewed as a matrix.  Other nearby development projects, existing entitlements, city conveyances, conservation easements and the responsibility for revitalizing Aspen's original ski portal are tightly intertwined with the lofty responsibility of honoring Aspen's skiing heritage and ensuring our legacy into the future.  Gorsuch Haus is but one cog in this complicated wheel, but it's the pivotal one whose time has come.    

Aspen Times Column: Andy Stone: Wait! Is that a behemoth behind the behemoths?

I’m afraid I may wind up out of step with a lot of people here — including maybe even myself (hate it when that happens) — but I have to say I have failed to be sufficiently outraged about the proposed Gorsuch Haus lodge up at the top of Aspen Street.

Let me stipulate (as the lawyers like to say) that, yes, it’s another damned new hotel in Aspen and, yes, I am fiercely opposed to any new hotels in Aspen — for a lot of good reasons.

But, that said, we need to face the fact that a few new hotels are going to get built. They are already baked into the mix, and so our dual mission should be to stop the ones we can stop and to make sure the ones we will have to live with are the best they can be — or, at least, the best we can force their developers to make them. (As opposed to one, which I’ll get back to in a little while, which got a City Council vote of approval with this ringing endorsement from Aspen’s mayor: “It’s the least worst project.” Way to go, you fierce watchdogs of the public interest!)

I think Gorsuch Haus falls into the category of “Damnable New Hotels, Inevitable” and should therefore be induced (with regular beatings, if that’s the only way) to be the best it can be.

In fact, the project has already been beaten up pretty thoroughly and, based on revised plans posted online this week, it seems that the beatings are having a beneficial effect.

But I have found it interesting that much of the outcry about the project is based on its sheer size and looming presence, high up at the top of Aspen Street like a demonic vulture, ready to swoop down and carry off our children.

But those who worry about the project’s effect on that semi-pristine mountainside seem to have missed the fact that the landscape in question is already doomed.

Those wide-open spaces along Aspen Street, leading up to Lift 1A? As we say in New York, “Fuggedaboudit!”

Two other behemoth projects are already set to squat in what some apparently think of as sacred open vistas.

On your right, looking up the hill, you will see the Aspen One townhomes (that “least worst” project I mentioned earlier) already under construction. On your left, across from Aspen One, you eventually will see the Lift One Lodge.

And once you’ve seen those two … well, you won’t be able to see much else.

Gorsuch Haus won’t disappear, but I don’t think it’s going to look like a monstrous brooding presence, tucked in behind those two big guys.

So, with Gorsuch Haus beaten up and beaten down and pretty much walled off from public view, it might be time to take a slightly wider look at what could be done to improve that side of Aspen Mountain and, in the process, improve all of Aspen in a way that really matters by making this place a better ski town.

And — as has been said many times already but needs to be said many times again — the greatest thing anyone could do for Aspen as a ski town right now would have to start with shifting the planned Lift One Lodge.

A quick recap for those who haven’t been paying much attention:

Right now, the base of Lift 1A is way up at the top of Aspen Street.

Admittedly, the steep hike to the lift is beloved by those who prefer not to share the mountain with flatland, low-altitude interlopers who have neither the desire nor the legs and lungs to start their day with that uphill slog.

For those who like to think of that side of the mountain as their own little private preserve, that’s all very cool.

On the other hand, for those who think Aspen should offer the best skiing experience possible for all concerned, it means a big chunk of the mountain is missing. Once upon a time, Ruthie’s Run was considered a classic Aspen ski run. Now it’s more like Chernobyl, an abandoned radioactive dead zone, as everyone rides the gondola and never ventures into the wilderness over on the west side of the mountain.

The real solution is not glitzy new hotels (yes, like Gorsuch Haus); it is to extend Lift 1A down the mountain, preferably clear down to Dean Street, just about even with the base of the Silver Queen Gondola.

And what’s blocking this great leap forward for Aspen as a great ski town?

Lift One Lodge, foolishly approved (but fortunately not yet built) right smack in the way of that lift.

Of course, the Lift One Lodge developers — a pair of brothers named Aaron and Michael Brown — are not unreasonably clutching their approvals to their collective chest and insisting they’re going to build what they are entitled to.

But perhaps (and, yes, perhaps I also believe in the Easter Bunny) a massive public outcry and, more effective, a massive dangling of favors from the city could alter their position — and alter the position of their lodge, at least enough to allow the lift to extend down to Dean Street, which, by the way, would make their property pretty much ski-in, ski-out — a major plus.

I know the chances are slim, but perhaps (there’s that word again) somewhere way down deep, the brothers Brown really do care a little bit about this town — from which they are intent on making an awful lot of money.

In any case, that’s a fight that’s worth having.

So let’s have at it. Let’s devote all that anti-Gorsuch energy to persuading the Browns to do what’s right — but, just by the way, while we’re at it, let’s keep our collective eye on the development ball so we don’t wind up with another “least worst” project in the form of a Four Seasons Hotel at the base of Shadow Mountain.


Let the beatings commence.

Aspen Daily News: Letter To The Editor from Bryan Peterson

Aspen Daily News: Letter To The Editor from Bryan Peterson


As a member of the team that envisions a hotbed hotel and vibrancy at the top of South Aspen Street, I would like to share how we have responded to the community and the Planning and Zoning Commission with our latest redesign of Gorsuch Haus.

Gorsuch Haus redesign addresses issues raised by P&Z and community

Gorsuch Haus redesign addresses issues raised by P&Z and community

New design opens access to the lift, improves sightlines and pulls building back from Norway

Aspen, Colo. — The Gorsuch Haus design team returns to the Planning and Zoning Commission on Aug. 16 with several changes in design that are meant to directly address issues raised by the P&Z commissioners and the community.


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Aspen Times guest column: Gorsuch Haus would be development done differently

"The idea behind Gorsuch Haus begins with Jeff Gorsuch and Bryan Peterson, two men who have invested their lives in Aspen and the sport of skiing. But more than their ideas, the project begins with their ideals.

...We at Lowe Enterprises love Jeff and Bryan’s approach and joined in presenting designs to the community, culminating with our presentation at the Limelight in December. This has been a work in progress from the beginning, and we continue to make adjustments based on community and now Planning and Zoning Commission input. It’s the community’s input that ensures we get it right."

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Aspen History Backs Gorsuch Haus Vision

Why Gorsuch Haus? For me this is a personal story that starts with a family history. The vision for the revitalization of that side of Aspen Mountain was born from my memories of the legend and magnitude of the place we always just called Lift 1.

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Application for New Gorsuch Haus Submitted to City

Application for New Gorsuch Haus Submitted to City

Norway Island Partners today submitted an application for the new Gorsuch Haus project at Lift 1A to the City of Aspen Community Development. The first step is for the application to be reviewed for completeness by Community Development staff, after which the application will be available to the public.