Since the Aspen Art Museum moved into its new digs last summer, the city of Aspen has been looking for a new tenant for the Old Power House building, which housed the museum since 1979. In typical city government fashion, a committee was formed to vet and recommend plans to the Aspen City Council, and the City Council decided to go with something else. Now, the Old Power House building will be the future home of a brewery, a business incubator, a community event space and a television studio all united under one application: the Aspen Power Plant. Of course, this all depends on the negotiations between the application's partners and the city working out.
According to the Aspen Daily News, if the negotiations with the Power Plant brewery group fall through, the City Council's second choice for repurposing the Old Power House is The Powerhouse Center, a performing arts space that was proposed by the Red Brick Council for the Arts. Five applications made it to the City Council's final review: Aspen Media Powerhouse, a TV studio proposal from the Grassroots Community Network; The Aspen Science Center, which would have turned the building into an interactive science learning center; The Powerhouse, a community space proposed by the son of former Pitkin County Sheriff Dick Kienast; the Powerhouse Performance and Event Center; and the Power Plant brewery. Three of those were suggested by the committee — the arts center, the Aspen Science Center and the Aspen Media Powerhouse — and two were added by the City Council, the Power House and the Power Plant brewery. The committee also recommended the John Denver Museum and Cultural Center application, but the City Council declined to consider it.
What pushed the Power Plant brewery over the edge, according to the Aspen Daily News, was its ability to generate revenue from the three businesses that would occupy the space. The interim publisher of the Aspen Daily News, David Cook, is the owner of Aspen 82, a multimedia studio that is part of the winning Power Plant bid.
Aspen Councilman Adam Frisch, who was the only council member to pick the Aspen Science Center as his first choice, said he's heard pushback from other restaurateurs in Aspen who don't like the idea of giving a brewery a home in a city-owned building. But, at the end of the day, the Power Plant bid won over the majority of the City Council with its revenue streams and business and event spaces available to the community. The business incubator could eventually provide affordable offices for as many as 60 entrepreneurs, while the event space would be open to groups of all levels of resources while also taking on weddings, for example, to keep the balance sheet in the black.
· City hops on brewery proposal for powerhouse [Aspen Daily News]
· Old Power Building RFQ [City of Aspen]
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