Tension between Jing and the city of Aspen eased this week after the city reached out to the restaurant to apologize for a mistake that could have resulted in legal action.
After Jing threatened to sue just over a week ago if the city didn’t allow the restaurant to rebuild its COVID-era outdoor facility, the city informed the owners earlier this week that their land-use application to expand their dining room and replace their front-facing windows — which the restaurant submitted on April 19 — was lost in the shuffle and city officials failed to see it .
“What they had submitted was a land use application,” said Amy Simon, planning director. “We reached out, apologized for our oversight and invited them to let us know how they would like to move forward.”
Confusion ensued this spring when Jing learned that they, like other downtown restaurants, would have to remove their outdoor structure by May 1 unless they actively pursued steps to modify it. – such as submitting a land use application for a building permit. While Mezzaluna, Mi Chola and Aspen Tap submitted similar requests and received permission to keep their temporary facilities during the approval process, Jing felt left out.
Owners Frank and Kate Lu told the Aspen Daily News that at the time they felt singled out as the only downtown restaurant that wouldn’t be allowed to keep their facility, but now they’re happy things could move forward. .
“I feel half angry and half hopeful,” Kate Lu said. “We gave Aspen our best 20 years. We vote, we have created 40 jobs, we support local charities. All I want is for this to be done.
The restaurant will now be allowed to keep its outdoor patio in place while its land use application progresses through the approval process. Jing requests land use approval for an expanded dining room and new windows to allow more fresh air and light into the restaurant, in addition to more dining room seating.
Since Jing is located in historic downtown Aspen, once the land use application is approved, the restaurant will need to obtain approval from the Historic Preservation Commission before it can obtain a building permit and begin. building. The city is currently reviewing the land use application for the windows for completion, and it did not give Jing a timeline as to when approval might be granted.
Frank Lu said he hoped things would move quickly.
“I love Aspen,” he said. “I love you, town hall, but I hope you can work as hard as I do. Work, work, work, seven days a week. Please.”
Ben Rose, an attorney representing Jing, said Jing would like the process to be completed by winter. He added that he hopes the city will work with Jing as quickly as it has with other restaurants in similar situations, and is pleased that so far the city seems willing to do so.
“Our only goal is to create a great outdoor space in Jing that enriches Aspen and can withstand the winter,” he said. “We are optimistic that we have started a new chapter with the city, which will see the project completed on schedule.”
Ideally, Rose said the process shouldn’t take more than two months, which is the time it took for Mezzaluna’s application to be processed. Jing hopes for the same treatment.
“We appreciate the City of Aspen recognizing that things could have been handled differently,” Rose continued. “It is true that Jing suffered a significant financial loss by removing his structure, but the only thing that matters now is to move forward.”