Cooper Street settlement seems worth supporting
August 22, 2008
The long and often arduous road leading to the redevelopment of the much ballyhooed Cooper Street Pier could be coming to an end.
Yes, you read it right: It appears that Aspen’s city government and the owners of the dilapidated building in the heart of downtown are on the verge of settling a lawsuit over its fate.
On Monday, the Aspen City Council will discuss the components of the settlement, one of which would require the landlords to lease the 1,800-square-foot basement space to either a bar, restaurant or brewery. Whatever the tenant is, its menu would have to be within the third lowest price range of all restaurants in town.
Other requirements include charging the sublevel tenant no more than $50 per square foot and no greater than 75 percent of the free-market rental price for a similar space in downtown Aspen.
While those seem to be fairly rigid ” if not heavy-handed ” regulations, the landlords, comprising businessmen Joshua Saslove, Ron Garfield, Nikos Hecht, Andy Hecht, Robert Hurst and Robert Blank, will get plenty in return.
Among their take will be an increase in the square footage of the residential portion of the redeveloped building. In the original development application, a 2,008-square-foot free-market condo would have taken up the third and fourth floors. The settlement, however, calls for the conversion of deck space that would net 4,527 square feet for the condo on the third and fourth floors.
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Meanwhile, the ground-level floor ” where Cooper Street Pier has been granted several stays of execution because of litigation “would likely become high-end retail space. The second floor would become either office or commercial space, with a portion of it used for a free-market condo.
It is too early for us to judge the merits of this settlement proposal, but at first blush it seems like an acceptable compromise. The landlords likely did not see the basement space as a big moneymaker anyway, so they’re not sacrificing a lot. But if the sublevel space does cater to the working class, we have a hard time not supporting
This lawsuit had the ingredients for a legal slugfest that could have dragged on for years, given the players involved. By early accounts, this settlement seems to be a clean break to a potentially ugly, expensive battle. There are more pressing issues in Aspen these days, and we like the idea of an affordable meal in downtown.