Aspen to finalize Wheeler leases |

Aspen to finalize Wheeler leases

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – A variety of items, including a lease for the restaurant group taking over the Wheeler Opera House restaurant space, are listed on the Aspen City Council’s Monday meeting agenda.

In March by a 3-1 vote, following a competitive application process, the council decided to award a five-year lease to Fiercely Local LLC, whose owners operate Specialty Foods of Aspen/The Cheese Shop on East Hopkins Avenue. Following renovations to the Wheeler over the next six or seven months, the group is expected to open a bar and restaurant in the city-owned space currently occupied by Bentley’s at the corner of South Mill Street and West Hyman Avenue.

Demolition work in the Wheeler basement began recently. It is hoped that the $2 million worth of renovations to various sections of the building will be finished this fall so that the new eatery can open in time for the winter ski season.

Fiercely Local, which is represented by Michele Kiley and Marco Cingolani, has negotiated a lease with the city that allows the company to occupy 2,618 square feet – larger than the space Bentley’s utilizes. The extra square footage was made available through a planned reduction in the space occupied by Valley Fine Art, the gallery next door to Bentley’s on South Mill Street. Approval of the art gallery’s lease also is on Monday’s agenda.

The lease rate for Fiercely Local is listed as a base rent of $45 per square foot or $117,810 annually, which breaks down to $9,817.50 per month, plus 8 percent of gross sales. The new tenant can exercise an option for another five years following the initial lease term.

The agenda contains a slew of other items, some of which will garner discussion and others which appear to be housekeeping matters:

• A public hearing is planned for an ordinance allowing supplemental appropriations to the 2011 budget. In all, the appropriations include $2.47 million in new requests from various city departments.

• The Environmental Health Department will provide an update on this summer’s Aspen tap water program. The city plans to set up stations around town to give away municipal water as part of an effort to tout Aspen tap instead of commercially sold water that is marketed in environmentally unfriendly plastic bottles. What is described in a city memorandum as a “fun outreach and education campaign” on why the city is promoting tap over bottled water will accompany the giveaway.

• SC Acquisitions, the company that earlier this year sought to purchase the University of Colorado’s historically valued Given Institute property in Aspen’s West End, is asking the city to reimburse it for $8,697.50 in city Community Development Department planning costs. The company claims it was “mislead and/or provided with bad advice” during the planning review, according to a memo from department director Chris Bendon to the council. Bendon disagrees with the assertion that the company – which failed to find support for its concepts at the community, Planning and Zoning Commission and council level – was misled.

“Staff … objects to the notion that staff is responsible for the success of an application,” Bendon wrote.

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