Aspen gallery to close
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Less than a month after local merchants pressed the city to prohibit the conversion of retail space to office use, it appears another Hyman Avenue Mall shop will be used for real estate sales.
The Christopher Cardozo Fine Photography gallery will close next month; RE/MAX is expected to expand into the space.
“Is this not just another nail in the coffin?” complained Barry Gordon, the outspoken local retailer who last month urged the Aspen City Council to adopt an emergency zoning measure to halt the spread of offices into prime retail spaces.
“Once again, the City Council doesn’t listen. They just don’t get it,” Gordon fumed.
The recent influx of offices selling time shares and real estate developments from downtown storefronts prompted Gordon to organize the Aspen Retail Merchants Association. The group’s first order of business was pressing the council to rezone the commercial core to stop the trend, but council members refused to rush through a rezoning that is in the works as part of a broader package of land-use code changes.
Mayor Helen Klanderud defended the city’s cautious approach yesterday.
“That’s a major rezoning in an important area of town,” she said. “The intended and unintended consequences of that could be many.”
Klanderud said she agrees, however, with Gordon’s contention that too many office uses in the core detract from the tourist shopping experience.
“It is not as interesting when you have office sorts of businesses rather than retail stores or restaurants,” she said.
The Cardozo gallery drew in a steady stream of interested passersby Wednesday who stopped to admire the photographic work of Edward S. Curtis. His images captured the lives of Native Americans during the late 18th and 19th centuries.
The gallery has operated for about seven years, including about four at its present locale on the ground level of the mall, next door to RE/MAX. It occupies about 350 square feet.
The gallery remains a viable business, though sales have lagged recently, according to owner Christopher Cardozo.
“Things have definitely slowed down. Business is definitely not what it was two or three years ago,” he said.
Nonetheless, Cardozo said he is closing the gallery in order to pursue other goals; the economy isn’t driving him out, he stressed.
He wants to get back into photography himself and hopes to open a museum dedicated to Curtis’ work. Cardozo is eyeing Seattle for the museum, as Curtis worked on his project there.
Gallery director Linda Trammell said she will head to Santa Fe, where she plans to open a bed and breakfast.
Next door, broker/owner Gwen Dickinson declined to discuss her expansion plans for RE/MAX, acknowledging it’s a hot-button topic in the community these days.
She did note the real estate industry’s considerable contribution to Aspen’s economy. “Real estate brings in so much money in real estate transfer tax,” she said.
Dickinson also said she supports Gordon’s efforts to enliven downtown Aspen and that RE/MAX will keep its doors open late when merchants hold an evening shopping extravaganza on Aug. 16.
[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is email@example.com]
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