The recent sale of a large portion of the two buildings comprising the property known as Durant Mall represent a different sort of trend for Aspen commercial real estate transactions, according to the broker involved.
“In over 27 years of selling commercial properties in downtown Aspen, all of our other buyers already have been connected to Aspen, living here full-time or as a second-home owner, or owning other commercial investment properties,” said Karen Setterfield, of Setterfield & Bright Real Estate. “This is the first time that the buyer came to us without a strong connection to Aspen.”
In April, the portion of the property that was listed for sale — mostly second-floor office spaces in each building — went under contract to Capital Commercial Investments of Austin, Texas. On Nov. 20, CCI-Aspen I LP closed on the transaction for $3.26 million.
Speaking to the unusual nature of the transaction, Setterfield noted that Doug Agarwal, president and owner of Capital Commercial Investments, was in Aspen for only one week during the 2012 winter holiday season.
“We worked with Doug’s team at CCI until they were ready to make an offer. He did not own other Aspen properties, and he is not even a frequent visitor,” Setterfield said.
The units that were sold include one retail space in Durant East that is leased long-term to Homemade Pasta. The sale also includes office suites in Durant East and Durant West already leased on a long-term basis to Alpha Security, Robert Sinclair Architects, Whatley Kallas attorneys and Asgard Investments.
Additionally, it includes nine garage parking spaces, which also currently are leased. Three vacant office spaces in Durant East and Durant West that are available for lease also were sold. The second-floor office spaces range in size from 500 square feet to 800 square feet. One has two small outdoor decks, and one has views of Aspen Mountain.
The sale does not include the separately owned units in either building occupied by Jour De Fete, Great Western Grog Shop, Aspen Peak, Ajax Holdings and Frias Properties. Neither does it include any of the residential condominium units nor another 21 garage parking spaces that are separately owned.
Durant Mall was built in 1975 by Block 106 Associates, a small group of partners headed by John Ginn. The buildings were designed by architect Larry Yaw, a partner in the project. The two buildings share an underground parking garage and an outdoor plaza between them. Combined, both buildings have approximately 34,000 square feet of floor space.
Over the years, all of the residential units, some of the commercial units and some of the garage units were sold off. The Block 106 group retained 17 office, retail and garage-parking units totaling about 12,000 square feet.
In March 2012, the group listed its property with Setterfield & Bright to sell all 17 units as one package at a price of $6 million, later reduced to $4 million. Over the next year, half a dozen offers to buy the property were submitted by various parties. Capital Commercial Investments ultimately was successful in reaching a deal with Block 106.
In April, the condominium association representing both buildings adopted a new capital-improvements plan for the entire mall, proposed after a study by Gary Beach, of Beach Resource. The plan required special assessments on all unit owners totaling between $1 million and $2 million.
The project awaits city of Aspen building permits and is expected to start in the spring.