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Debate Over Lost Parking Surrounds Mark Hunt's Aspen Project

Mark Hunt's development group is trying to get the city of Aspen to let it take over a dozen parking spots surrounding the current Gap building at 204 South Galena Street for its construction crews in order to get the project done in eight months. Hunt's development group bought the one-story, 11,000 square foot commercial building back in October for $13.25 million and has plans to raze the structure in order to build a new retail building with space for five shops with a second-floor restaurant set back from the edge of the building and with a large outdoor deck.

Some members of City Council were smarting over the loss of Galena parking, as the construction for the new 30,000 square foot Aspen Art Museum is taking up 17 spaces at East Hyman Avenue and South Spring Street, and is not expected to finish until the spring of 2014. "There's got to be some other way that this can be done," said councilman Don Cheeley. Cheeley suggested freeing up four or five spots during the spring offseason, which wouldn't seem to have much public benefit given that more or less the entire town closes up shop and flees to Mexico til Memorial Day once the resorts close.

Still, Commissioner Terry Butler is all about the "quick and clean manner" of Hunt's project. "I believe that when good people come into town — we don't get that many good ones, but when we get a good developer, by God, we get behind him." It remains to be seen how the Aspen parking wars transpire.

· Builder awaits city manager's decision on Aspen parking spaces [Aspen Times]
· Chicago businessman buys Gap building for $13.25 million [Aspen Business Journal]