The Crystal Palace building in downtown Aspen, home to the once-bustling dinner theater for 51 years, was sold Friday in a deal worth $12.5 million, according to Pitkin County property records.
Sources knowledgeable of the transaction said that one of the main investors behind the buyer of record, 312 East Hyman Avenue LLC, is Chicago real estate developer Mark Hunt.
Aspen real estate broker Lorrie B. Winnerman, who represented the buyer and seller in the transaction, would not confirm Hunt’s involvement. She said plans are in the works for the space, which has been mostly dormant since Mead Metcalf, who owned and operated the dinner theater, sold it for $8.9 million to Michigan businessman Linden Nelson in May 2008. Metcalf closed the Crystal Palace in April 2008.
“We’re hopeful we’ll bring a lot of life and vitality back within the year,” she said. “It will be a great project.”
The deal also includes the Grande Finale building next door to the Crystal Palace property, which is located at 312 E. Hyman Ave.
Neither property was listed for sale. The Crystal Palace building comprises 12,650 square feet, and the Grande Finale building takes up 2,226 square feet. Both properties are on the city of Aspen’s historic inventory list, meaning any types of alterations to the buildings are subject to review.
Hunt, an investor in the Hotel Jerome, has made a number of commercial acquisitions in downtown Aspen in the past year.
In October 2012, he paid $13.25 million for the Gap building at Galena Street and Hopkins Avenue. That building was torn down, and construction is underway for a two-story commercial building that will include retail and restaurant space.
The following December, Hunt acquired the Bidwell building at Galena and Cooper for $22 million. And in March, a Hunt-controlled entity paid $1.5 million for the building at East Cooper Avenue that houses Johnny McGuire’s Deli and Domino’s Pizza.
Hunt was traveling Monday, and attempts to reach him at his Chicago-based M Development LLC firm were unsuccessful. Records from the Crystal Palace deal show that Aspen attorney Curtis Sanders played a role in the transaction. He could not be reached for immediate comment.