Building owner: Tenants can stay |

Building owner: Tenants can stay

John Colson

The new owner of the Mill Street Commercial Center said Thursday his tenants in the locals-oriented shopping center will be staying put for at least two years, and perhaps longer.”We like the mom-and-pop businesses,” said John Provine, who recently purchased the commercial building at 455 N. Mill St. from Bil Dunaway and David Baxter for $10 million. The small shopping center is home to the city’s only coin-operated laundry, one of its two video stores and other businesses that serve locals.Provine said he has no plans to redevelop the Mill Street property, including the former Stefan Kaelin building next door, for at least a couple of years. The property, he said, comprises a 53,000-square-foot footprint for development purposes.During the next two to four years, Provine pledged, the lease rates there will stay as they are roughly $25 to $30 per square foot, he said.”For now, for a couple, three years, they’re safe, their customers are safe,” he said. Provine described himself as “a local yokel” who is “more than 60 [years old]; I’m no rookie.” He said he skis 100 days a year, bikes around in the summer, and has been in the Aspen area either part time or full time since the late 1970s.He said that, contrary to reports he wants a rezoning for the center, he firmly supports the city’s service/commercial/indusrial zoning for the building.”We have no intention of going in for any zoning change. That’d be suicide,” given the city’s long-term consistent efforts to preserve businesses geared toward locals, he said. “We can manage the property and make a little money – not much, but a little – for as long as we want to.”And, according to Provine, the tenants all have leases that go for another two or three years.”Those tenants are loyal, they don’t move out on you in the middle of the night,” he said. “We desperately want ’em, we want ’em to stay. And if we do anything [to redevelop the property], we’d want ’em to move back.”Provine confirmed that he is involved in the redevelopment of two other high-profile downtown properties – the Wienerstube on East Hyman Avenue and the old La Cocina property on East Hopkins Avenue.He also confirmed that while his redevelopment plans for the Mill Street Commercial Center are vague, they likely will involve construction of three-story buildings with free-market housing on top, affordable housing on the second floor and retail on the ground.There also is the possibility of building an underground parking garage, he said, and then added, “What we could do … is have twice as many businesses” serving the local consumer market.”I’m not going to put Gucci in down there,” he said. “Gucci wouldn’t go down there.”In any event, he stressed, concrete development plans won’t come until well into the future.He also denied reports that he paid roughly twice what the property was worth, maintaining that “the appraisal came in at almost exactly what we paid.”Provine said he is involved in a couple of duplex projects around town, as well as the commercial ventures, but noted, “I’m done. This is starting to interfere with my skiing.”

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