2D - Ballot Question on Location for City Offices
Ballot Language: Which proposal for City Office Space location and construction do you prefer? (Choose only one.)
OPTION A: Office space at 517 E. Hopkins Avenue and 204 S. Galena Street under contract for purchase and reconstruction, with remodel of City Hall (Project at former Daily News Building).
OPTION B: Office space at 427 Rio Grande Place and 455 Rio Grande Place approved pursuant to Ordinance No. 4, Series of 2017, with remodel of City Hall (Rio Grande Project).
What is this ballot question asking?
The City of Aspen requires more office space to run its operations and more efficiently serve residents and customers. Consolidating operations and building office space is less expensive than leasing commercial space. This question asks where voters prefer to construct new office space. Regardless of which location voters select, the 20,000 square feet of current City Hall will be renovated and will remain an integral part of City operations.
Option A - 517 E. Hopkins Avenue and 204 S. Galena Street
In this option a local developer sells the City a newly constructed building at 517 E. Hopkins Ave. along with a renovation of the adjacent 2nd floor space at 204 S. Galena (former Aspen Kitchen). Twenty-five hundred square feet of the street level of 517 E. Hopkins Ave. will remain commercial space not owned or operated by the City.
Option B - 427 Rio Grande Place and 455 Rio Grande Place
In this option the City renovates the current Rio Grande Building (Old Aspen Youth Center) and constructs a new building in former ACRA/Stay Aspen Snowmass offices, which extends to the northern edge of Galena Plaza. The two buildings will be connected. The new building will not exceed 46 feet and will be at a lower height than the Pitkin County Library addition.
|Option A - Hopkins/Galena
||Option B - Rio Grande Place
|37,542 gross square feet of office space||40,000 gross square feet of office space|
|City buys privately owned property
||City owns land and current buildings|
|City purchase of commercial buildings takes away retail/private office opportunities
||Increases size of Galena Plaza green space|
|If City builds here now, community removes this land from other public uses in the future (Public Zone District)|
|Currently approved for development, so construction can occur on this parcel regardless of City’s purchase
||Construction occurs here now only if Option B is chosen, otherwise land is banked for future use|
|Three municipal offices for customer service
||Two municipal offices for customers service
|ACRA returns to space in front of parking garage
||ACRA included in new office space|
|$49-52 million estimated cost including City Hall renovation
||$46-49 million estimated cost including City Hall renovation|
|City will address Affordable Housing Mitigation
||City will address Affordable Housing Mitigation
|City offices in Old Powerhouse and Mt. Rescue cabin vacated
||City offices in Old Powerhouse and Mt. Rescue cabin vacated
Option A - 517 E. Hopkins Avenue/204 S. Galena Street
Option B - 427 Rio Grande Place and 455 Rio Grande Place
Map of Proposed Locations
Pro and Con Statements Submitted by Aspen Voters for City Ballot Issues
No Comments Received for ballot issues 2C and 2B
Below are Pro and Con Statements* for 2D - City Office Space Location
*Please know that these are citizen statements that have not undergone any fact checks and may contain errors.
2D - City Office Space Location
Steve Goldenberg Statements
|In favor of Question 2D, Option A:
1. The Hopkins Ave. space (Option A) is directly across Hopkins Ave from the Armory (current City Hall). The Galena proposal is 4X further away and across Main Street. Option A will save lots of staff time and money.
2. The Hopkins Ave. proposal (Option A) preserves the beautiful Galena Plaza Public Open Space in back of the library.
3. With the land cost removed from both proposals, the Hopkins Ave. space (Option A) is less expensive in total dollars and cost per square foot. (The same is true if the land cost is included in both proposals.)
4. The top floor offices of the Hopkins Ave proposal (Option A) will have spectacular views. The other floors will have nice views of Aspen Mtn.
5. Voting for Option A means only one new office construction project will occur. Voting for Option B means two new office construction projects. Voting for Option A means one less construction project in Aspen.
6. The Hopkins Ave proposal (Option A) will be built at a guaranteed fixed price by a professional developer, not the City staff which is notorious for humongous cost overruns on ballot issue estimates.
7. The Hopkins Ave proposal (Option A) allows the construction free reuse of 10,600 square feet that will be vacated by the ACRA, Ski Aspen/Snowmass and the top two floors of the old Aspen Youth Center.
In opposition to Question 2D, Option B:
8. Option B removes 17 parking spaces now in front of ACRA building and 3 garage parking spaces.
9. Option B does not honor the 2 story height limit, enacted by City Council. The City does not play by the same mass and scale rules that it imposes on the private sector.
10. The distance to the Armory (City Hall) is 4X greater than Option A. and requires staff to cross Main St. twice on every round trip.
11. Option B requires the demolition of the ACRA building and trucking tons of that demolition debris to the dump.
12. Option B uses up the Galena Public Open Space preventing use as open space or for something else.
13. Option B does not have a fixed price. City construction estimates for ballot elections are notoriously underestimated.
14. Option B will add an extra 45’ tall office building with all the traffic congestion and affordable housing requirements that go with that.
2D - City Office Space Location
Pro - Option A
1. Is actually a lower cost option when the underlying land values are included in the comparison. The cost publicized for Option A includes the value of the land. However the cost publicized for Option B ignores the underlying land value. There is nowhere else within the city core where we can purchase land equivalent to the Option B parcel for the $6 million difference between the Option A and Option B “costs”.
2. Preserves our opportunity to build affordable housing instead of office space on the Option B site. Using the Option B site for affordable housing upholds a long held goal of APCHA to have more employee housing closer to the City core. Affordable housing on the Option B site would fit in with the nearby affordable housing at Mill Street Condos, APD and Obermeyer. The Option B site provides a less expensive affordable housing site than anywhere else in town.
3. Provides a consolidated central location for city offices in our downtown core directly across Hopkins from the current Armory City Hall just 50’ away. The Option A Hopkins location will be far more efficient for both citizens and city staff by eliminating the need to trek 2 blocks and across Highway 82 to the alternate location proposed by Option B.
4. Reduces construction fatigue by not adding 29,400 square feet of never before built new office space to Aspen. The buildings in Option A are replacing an existing building (517 E. Hopkins) or remodeling part of another existing building, (204 S. Galena).
5. Does not add 29,400 square feet of new job-generating office space to Aspen. Therefore it does not add 86 new full time employees (per estimate from Planning and Zoning review pg 420) competing for affordable housing and space on Highway 82.
6. Honors the 2-story 28 foot height limit City Council enacted for the downtown core and most of Main and North Mill streets (pg 4).
7. Provides what will likely be some of the best office views in downtown Aspen extending 270 degrees from the top floor of the building replacing the old Aspen Daily News building combined with the remodel of the adjacent top floor of 204 S. Galena. The city’s new office space needs include 6,000+ square feet of storage which coincides with the space available in the basement of the Option A proposal.
8. Prevents the existing ACRA / Stay Aspen Snowmass office space from going to the landfill and allows reuse of this existing office space.
9. Retains 17 surface parking spaces and 3 public garage spaces near the old ACRA office on Rio Grande. Under Option B these 20 spaces will be converted to office space and lost as parking.
10. The Option A cost is a firm, committed contract. The Option B cost is only an estimate with no commitment as to the actual final cost. The City has a history of lowballing estimates when publishing the cost of ballot issues.
Voting against Option B:
1. Preserves affordable housing as a better and higher use than city office space on the Option B site. There is nowhere else within the city core where we can purchase land equivalent to the Option B parcel for the $6 million difference between the Option A and Option B “costs”.
2. Recognizes that the cost publicized for Option B ignores the underlying land value as a location for 20 units of affordable housing – similar in size to twice the size of the recently approved affordable housing development at 802 W. Main Street. Purchasing land to build 20 one bedroom affordable housing units walkable to the core of town would cost more than the difference in publicized price difference between Option A and Option B.
3. Reduces efficiency and convenience by splitting our City office space across both sides of Highway 82. City office space belongs directly across Hopkins from the Armory City Hall in the core of Aspen while affordable housing is a better fit with the nearby affordable housing at Mill Street Condos, APD and Obermeyer.
4. Decreases construction fatigue and traffic congestion by avoiding building 33,600 square feet of new city offices (equivalent to about 1 1/2 Aspen Art Museums).
5. Adds 29,400 net new square feet of job-generating office space to Aspen – adding more employees competing for affordable housing and/or commuting space on Highway 82.
6. Adds a three story, 45 foot 9 inch building just outside the 2 story, 28 foot height limit imposed on the downtown core and most of Main and North Mill streets.
7. Tears down and sends the ACRA / Stay Aspen Snowmass office space to the landfill.
8. Replaces 20 parking spaces with new office space and the newly created office space adds additional new commuters competing for parking.
9. Recognizes the publicized cost is only an estimate - not a firm, committed, contracted cost.
2D - City Office Space Location
Pro Option B
I write in support of the Rio Grande Place location for city offices.
A key factor we need to consider is how we visualize the Rio Grande Park area. The area between Main Street and the river should act as a buffer between town and the residential areas north of the river and in the west end. Before one votes take a walk through the John Denver Sanctuary and appreciate the contemplative and peaceful vibe. Now imagine how increased activity and vitality would affect that vibe. When offices close at night it leaves the area quiet, contemplative and peaceful. Does the public want the same level of activity there as in the core of town where vibrancy and vitality should belong? The downtown core is where life and vitality should be, not adjoining Rio Grande Park.
The Rio Grande Place civic area is now home for the library, jail, county courthouse, police department, the sheriff’s office, and county administrative offices. It is the perfect location for city offices.
The offices at the Rio Grande Place provide more natural light. A Harvard Business Review article in September of this year reveals that natural light is the #1 attribute employees desire.
Land use approvals are in place for the Rio Grande Place. Plans are approved. The city owns the land. The property will be developed eventually.
If offices are built at 517/204 it will remove valuable office and second-tier retail from the inventory. This will drive rental prices up and make it even harder for local businesses to survive. A goal of City Council is to support local businesses. The 517/204 option is contrary to this goal.
The appraised value of the 517 Hopkins property is $3 million to $5 million below the price the city is in a contract to purchase if for. If one votes for this option be aware of this. The building at 517 Hopkins will be demolished and a new building built there. Voting for the 517/204 location does not decrease construction impacts in the core.
There a shortage of parking available at 517/204. The Rio Grande Place location is right by the parking garage.
The Rio Grande Place option provides better natural light. It has better parking for people doing business with the city. It does not drive up rental prices in the core, nor does it decrease available space for the private sector. The Rio Grande Place preserves a peaceful and contemplative environment to buffer the hustle and bustle of the core from the residential neighborhoods north of the river and in the west end. The Rio Grande Place prevents the city from paying more than the appraised value for real estate at 517/204. The Rio Grande Place has no effect on construction in the core. The Rio Grande Place is where civic buildings are now located and is a logical choice for city offices.
Put city offices where they belong. Vote for the Galena option. On City of Aspen Measures vote for 2D Option B.
Public Q and A
What is the appraised value of 517 E. Hopkins? The City of Aspen got a verbal appraisal of $18-20 million for this property. The City Manager's statement on this value is here.
What is the appraised value of the second floor space of 204 S. Galena St? The appraised value is $7 million. The full appraisal document is here.
If you have a question, email email@example.com.