Aspen investors get serious about office space
When Wit Solberg took family vacations in Aspen, there was just one thing missing — workspace.
“I would take my family out there and I worked, but I couldn’t find a place to work,” he said recently. “I used to visit Aspen and I would be at The Gant, on my laptop, away from my kids on a bench.”
There was a time when workspace and vacation didn’t belong in the same breath, but today’s fast-paced business world has changed that.
“We’re a national real estate company that I own with partners,” said Solberg, who founded the Kansas City, Missouri-based real estate investment firm Mission Peak Capital in 2008. “So I needed to be on phone calls, because life was going on while we were on vacation.”
Seeing that Aspen wasn’t equipped with workspace needed for business dealings or transactions — coffee shops offer little privacy, and hotels have limited space — Solberg and his business partner decided to fill the void themselves.
Two limited liability corporations they established paid $2.8 million for 3,674 square feet of space on the second floor of 520 E. Cooper Ave. in July, and another $325,000 for 328 square feet of space on the same floor in October.
The main space is currently being gutted to make way for Alt-Aspen, which Solberg said is tentatively set to open Jan. 15. During a nickel tour of the space last week, Solberg, who now lives in Aspen with his wife and three children, said he envisions an efficient working space for business types to get their jobs done without the logistical hassles.
Alt-Aspen will come with Wi-Fi and ethernet, printing and scanning services, mail service, private offices and conference rooms, an on-site notary service, private changing room, lockers (which are large enough for skis or a bag of golf clubs), a kitchenette and reception area. There are two rooms, roughly the size of a phone booth, for those needing to make a private call.
“A lot of time in this town, people are doing business in their hotels,” Solberg said. “You’re by a mountain and people need to get to work, and there’s no place to do it. They don’t want this hanging over their heads.”
He added, “The design here is for someone with access to the mountain, and maybe they just want some space with a locker and access to an office downtown.”
High-season costs vary, from $250 daily for private office space, to $5,000 a week for a conference room. Off-peak prices include $150 daily for private space and $2,500 for a week’s use of a conference room. The conference rooms come with large HD televisions for video conferences and “everything that would be needed to consummate some transaction or presentation,” Solberg said.
With seven executive-style private offices, two conference rooms, one team space and shared common space, Alt-Aspen can accommodate in the neighborhood of 40 to 42 people.
“This is probably for the higher-end customer,” Solberg said.
Solberg said he and his wife, Brandi, will be hands-on operators, along with a couple of other employees, including Tyler MacDonald, who focuses on marketing and outreach.
Solberg and MacDonald said Alt-Aspen also will give visitors the opportunity to extend their vacations.
“A lot of people who have to get back might say, ‘Wait a minute; if I can do business here, and I’ve been in my zone, maybe I’ll stay a couple of extra days,” noted Solberg, who said the entire investment to get Alt-Aspen off the ground is roughly $4.5 million.
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International visitors have traditionally accounted for 10 to 20 percent of Aspen Skiing Co.’s skier visits in recent past seasons. Travel fears and restrictions tied to the coronavirus are expected to wipe out most of that market for 2020-21.