The city of Aspen has agreed to not prosecute the Mark Hunt-led ownership of the old Boomerang Lodge over the state of the property, which has fallen into disrepair.
“The Owner has expressed a willingness to cooperate with the City to repair and mitigate the decay and deterioration occurring at the Property,” according to the stipulation and agreement signed by the parties Wednesday and authorized by Aspen lawyer Ted Gardenswartz, the designated hearing officer for the case.
The agreement established that the city will not pursue “demolition-by-neglect” action against the ownership, provided that it meets a series of repair deadlines starting Jan. 1.
The city initiated a demolition-by-neglect complaint against Hopkins & Fourth LLC, which is the Boomerang’s owner of record and controlled by Hunt, on Aug. 18 in Aspen Municipal Court. “Evidence of neglect” identified in the complaint included deteriorating structural elements, ineffective waterproofing and damaged architectural details.
A hearing to decide the matter was postponed at least twice to allow ongoing negotiations between the parties, resulting in this week’s agreement.
“We are pleased that the City has chosen to work with us in remedying parts of the Boomerang that fell into disrepair before we acquired it. The stipulation draws on the expertise of our talented engineers and contractors, so we are glad the City and the Hearing Officer approved our proposal,” Hunt said in a statement provided to the Aspen Daily News.
The Boomerang ownership agreed to meet the following conditions and deadlines:
—Jan. 1 is the deadline for the ownership to clean the property’s debris, trash and construction materials and secure the building. That includes removing debris from the roof drains and checking and repairing leaks and other issues; removing glass from the site and covering with plywood the windows where glazing is damaged or glass is broken; draining water from the property’s pool and hot tub and line the pool to prevent damage to its historic materials, among other fixes.
—By Feb. 1, repairs to the roof-drain connections in the building’s basement are to be completed, as well as the installation of heat tape to prevent ice formation on the roof drains. Other repairs include the reinforcement of deteriorated concrete and exposed rebar (reinforcement steel) if the damage is greater than 50%, among other fixes. The agreement also requires the ownership to “install an illuminated metal sign, not to exceed 6 square feet, indicating that the site is an Aspen Historic Landmark and is under active supervision.” The sign will include a phone number for Boomerang ownership and the city’s Community Development Department for people to report concerns.
—April 1 is when the Boomerang ownership must provide to the city’s Historic Preservation staff a summary of wood rot, efflorescence and historically painted materials where the finish is peeling or missing, and propose a plan to remedy those issues. The ownership also must provide the Historic Preservation staff with a plan to address roof materials damaged by moisture and wood rot on the exterior decks. Those repairs cannot be made until approved by Historic Preservation staff, per the agreement.
Under the agreement, the city reserves the right to renew its demolition-by-neglect complaint or take other actions if the Boomerang ownership fails to make the remedies by the deadlines.
The city would have several options to pursue, according to Assistant Attorney Kate Johnson, if compliance is not satisfactory. Those include the city’s filing a lien on the property and making the repairs itself or prosecuting the demolition-by-neglect charge against the ownership, which could result in fines imposed by a municipal judge. The harshest penalty could come from the Historic Preservation Commission, which has the authority to prohibit the current ownership or its successors from obtaining a building permit for up to 10 years.
“While the City’s response to non-compliance will likely depend upon the facts of any given situation, I anticipate that we would evaluate the several options available to the City. Our goal will be to obtain compliance by the Owner,” Johnson said in an email to the Aspen Daily News.
The demolition-by-neglect complaint was filed on Aug. 16, after city planning and building officials, attorneys and electrical inspectors inspected the Boomerang property twice earlier this year.
The first inspection, on March 13, revealed “numerous instances of deterioration” that were forwarded to the Aspen Historic Preservation Commission, which in turn on June 28 submitted a “demolition-by-neglect” petition to the chief building official, triggering a second property inspection on July 18, according to this week’s agreement.
Boomerang ownership was represented at the July inspection as well as an outside structural engineer retained by the city. A report based on an inspection of the property in October by a Hunt-hired firm “concurred with the City on many of the repair recommendations for the property,” the agreement said.
“These repairs are to be undertaken with the goal of comprehensively identifying and arresting deterioration caused by water infiltration, securing the site from trespassers, and making it clear that the site is under active supervision and care,” the agreement said.
Hunt’s Hopkins & Fourth LLC acquired the Boomerang Lodge for $10 million in June 2018, after previous ownerships’ plans for the property did not materialize. The lodge closed after the founders and owners of the Boomerang Lodge, Charles and Fonda Paterson, sold it in 2005 after running it for 50 years. The Boomerang Lodge was one of Aspen’s original ski hotels.
Subsequent ownership (not Hunt’s group) preserved the lodge’s historic entry and public areas, including the swimming pool. The rest of the building’s west side was demolished in the spring of 2007.
The 27,000-square-foot Boomerang parcel is located on the 500 block of West Hopkins Avenue. Hunt has previously said plans for the property could be a mix of duplexes and single-family homes totaling no more than 500 units. Hunt did not respond to a question about his current plans for the property. Hunt’s M Development has not filed a land-use application for the property.
By: Rick Carroll I Aspen Daily News I December 7, 2023