In the 1960s, more than 200 pedestrian malls were created in American cities. Today only thirty survive. One of the reasons the Aspen Pedestrian Mall exists today is because of its successful urban and environmental design that highlights a forest like setting amidst the commercial area. The Mall offers fantastic connectivity to area parks and transit. The historical bricks slow us down and offer a break from more conventional areas of town. And then there is the non-tangible “je ne sais quoi”, which translates into every individuals’ personal feelings and memories of this area.
The Pedestrian Mall, however, is facing imminent challenges that must be addressed for the health and safety of the community. The urban design of the mall works, but many of the underground utilities below the mall are more than 60 years old and must be replaced or upgraded. You might have noticed the bricks have settled and heaved in various places. In fact, one of Aspen City Council’s top ten goals is to develop a master plan that guides redevelopment and the use of the pedestrian malls with a goal of maintaining and improving the pedestrian experience. A significant step toward meeting this goal is to address the infrastructure and surface with the ethic of building on the beloved character and historic aesthetic of the area.
To preserve and honor the integrity of what Aspen has already created on the Mall, goals of the project include:
- Maintaining the character of the mall improving the water, gas, telephone, electric and stormwater infrastructure while increasing the accessibility on the surface to meet modern codes, including Americans with Disabilities Act and storm water infrastructure to protect our rivers.
- Retaining the pedestrian mall as an urban park with a forestry program that is respectful of Mall’s history.
- Replacing aging utilities to serve the needs of businesses, residents and visitors for the next 50 years.
The project work so far has revealed that the majority of the sub surface utilities need upgrading to meet current demand requirements. In addition, the bricks that are so iconic to the Mall are literally running out. They are historic bricks that are no longer manufactured. Only 30,000 are left yet the City uses on average 10,000 annually for maintenance to repair infrastructure breaks. This necessitates an overall replacement of the bricks to create unity and to address the uneven nature of the ground. After years of acknowledging the need for this overhaul, it is finally underway.
The Pedestrian Mall Improvement Project will be implemented in five phases, each involving public input. Phase I which focuses on site analysis and underground utilities will occur in 2017. Phase II, which focuses on conceptual planning and design alternatives. is underway now and will continue for the next 18 months into 2018.
We’ve already held our first open houses and are canvassing the neighborhood to get information to tenants and neighbors. If you are interested in joining a stakeholder group, please call or text the team at 970-618-1457 or email us at email@example.com.
The Aspen Pedestrian Mall surface is more than forty years old, and some of the underground infrastructure has not been upgraded in sixty years. Not only are the bricks reaching the end of their lives, but the surface is uneven and is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. Most of the mall trees are reaching maturity, and their size and confined growing space creates challenges for their health.
Addressing these problems on the mall is one of the City Council’s top ten goals. Upgrading the utilities, renovating the mall’s surface, replacing trees and invigorating the environment are top priorities. The primary goals are to include extensive public involvement, improve the quality of the stormwater draining into the Roaring Fork River, supply the most efficient utility service possible, improve the pedestrian experience and retain the mall’s historic, beloved character.
The Aspen Pedestrian Mall improvement project includes 130,000 square feet on Hyman, Mill, Cooper and Galena streets. Significant utility upgrades are necessary to anticipate the next 50 years in downtown Aspen. The project’s scope emphasizes achieving those upgrades while preserving the underlying character, historic integrity, and businesses within the Mall for future generations. The project will be implemented in five phases, each involving public input. Phase I and II will be underway through December 2017.