After months of back and forth with the Pitkin County Planning and Zoning Commission, the new owner of the Redstone Castle is ready to move to the Board of County Commissioners with their plan for the historic property.
Applicant RC Ownership LLC and land use planner Glenn Horn of Davis Horn Inc. sought amendments to the 2018 Village Lodge Preservation Master Plan in compliance with the intended use of the property.
Stephane De Baets, global financier and majority owner of the St. Regis Aspen Resort, bought the 121-year-old property in March 2022 for $11.975 million through RC Ownership LLC. He and partners own wellness center resorts outside of Bangkok and Florence, Italy.
The Redstone Castle will be the next location in the portfolio of wellness retreats, offering treatment services like massage therapy, physical therapy, yoga, stretching, hydrotherapy, weight control, and detox.
Planning and Zoning Commission members Jeffrey Woodruff, Zachary Matthews, Jasmine Tygre, and Dough Throm voted unanimously to recommend approval to the BOCC at their meeting on Tuesday, with some topics to be studied further before BOCC presentation and others to be discussed with the board.
Wellness center plans
The property comprises three separate parcels: the castle parcel, the carriage house parcel, and the barn parcel. In all, the parcels span across nearly 154 acres just outside of Redstone in the Crystal Valley.
Approved accommodations include four 3-bedroom cabins in the barn parcel activity envelope and four 2-bedroom cottages in the activity envelope south of the castle, each 20 feet tall. No guest accommodations will be in the castle itself. The P&Z resolution states that up to 40 guests could be on the property at any given time.
None of the guest accommodations will have their own kitchens. A commercial kitchen will be built in a garage on the barn parcel.
The castle will house areas for reception, socializing, dining, employee housing, a finishing kitchen, a staff lounge, and treatment rooms.
The carriage house will be converted to an area for hydrotherapy treatment, with potential facilities including a pool, sauna, and treatment rooms.
The historic dog kennel will become an outdoor gear storage area, as trail systems for summer and winter will be developed on the property for guests.
Estimates for employees of the wellness center hover around 40 people. To help with recruitment, employee housing for 36 people is planned for the property. Two deed-restricted, multi-family buildings were approved in the plan, each 28 feet high. The 16 units in the buildings will all be Category 3 rentals and deed-restricted in perpetuity, regardless of property ownership. Accommodations for nine employees are planned within the castle. Their rental rate has yet to be determined.
The plans also call for a 4,8000-square-foot greenhouse that will not exceed 20 feet in height.
De Baets inherited the right to 14,500 square feet of additional structures when he purchased the castle. The cabins will be 1,800 square feet each, cottages 1,200 square feet each, and the square footage of both multi-family housing buildings will not exceed 10,400. The height restrictions on the structures ensure they will not be visible from Highway 133.
The resolution also dictates all building plans will be reviewed and approved by the Redstone Historic Preservation Commission and the Historical Society.
Historic easements protect permanent fixtures in the interior of the 15-bedroom, 15-bathroom, 25,127-square-foot castle.
Public access options
The majority of discussion at the P&Z meeting centered around public access options.
A conservation easement for approximately 88 acres on the property, the land above 7,400 feet of elevation, will come with BOCC approval of the land use plan.
The applicant also agreed to study an access plan to the ice pillar on the property for ice climbers. A debris flow mitigation fence is part of the site plan, and something like a gate or break in the fence would be both expensive and potentially dangerous.
De Baets and Horn asked that the county dictate a sort of call-ahead registration system for ice climbers, so the castle would know who is on the property. Open Space and Trails Agriculture & Conservation Easement Administrator Paul Holsinger approved of the plan with the note that OST should have the option to assume control of the system, so ice pillar access may extend past RC Ownership LLC’s control of the property.
Part of the proposal once called for a “north/south trail” for public access to the property along the east side of the Crystal River. According to commission vice chair Zachary Matthews, the trail was proposed to ensure public viewing access to the castle, but that goal could be achieved another way.
De Baets opposed the trail as it would lead to nowhere and pose a problem for guest privacy. Instead, he and Horn proposed an agreement with the Town of Redstone and Crystal Valley residents for occasional public use of the castle — like for Redstone Caucus meetings.
“The recreational trail on the east side of the river is not something that can work with the proposed use of the castle,” Horne said. “There would just be no control, and it won’t be consistent with the operation of the resort as Stephane sees it.”
Another point of contention was the public tours currently offered at the castle. The resolution stated, “There will be a minimum of 24 public tours of the historic structures per year. A daily tour may have up to 50 attendees if they arrive by personal automobile. The public tours shall not include interior access to any portions of structures that are utilized as residences.”
Currently, the Redstone Castle website lists public tours can accommodate up to 12 people for $50/each and up to 10 people for a private tour for $500. De Baets and commission members agreed that having a group of more than 10-12 people moving through the castle at any given time is burdensome.
He and Horn agreed to study the popularity of the tours further and come to the BOCC with specific numbers to inform the frequency of tours. The commission agreed to strike “up to 50 attendees” from the resolution.
“We’ve been losing money on these tours, but we do it as a public service,” De Baets said.
Further study between Tuesday and the first BOCC reading will also include conservation easements on the south end of the property. The wildfire development standards will be based on a medium risk, which mildly alters mitigation-based building designs. And De Baets will assume road maintenance responsibility.
The Redstone Castle, a mansion originally known as Cleveholm Manor, was completed in 1903 by John C. Osgood, who later became president of the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company.
By: Josie Taris | The Aspen Times I February 8, 2024