City helps shop Cooper Street restaurant space
The Aspen Times
The city of Aspen is working with a commercial broker as he looks to fill a redeveloped restaurant space that sits on a lot previously occupied by Cooper Street Pier and Bad Billy’s.
The 1,591-square-foot space located at 508 E. Cooper Ave. — which the owner has agreed to keep an affordable restaurant — requires an estimated $1 million in buildout, including kitchen equipment, seating and lighting. Cooper Street Owners — a group of limited liability companies controlled in part by Aspen businessmen Ron Garfield and Nikos Hecht — owns the building. The broker is Lex Tarumianz, of Pyramid Property Advisors.
In November 2007, the city denied the request of Cooper Street Owners to subdivide the property into separate condominium interests. A month later, the owners filed a complaint in Pitkin County District Court, alleging that the city exceeded its jurisdiction and abused its discretion in denying the redevelopment request. The two sides came to a settlement in August 2008, allowing for redevelopment based on the condition that the city was provided both a cash-in-lieu affordable-housing payment of $309,710 and a deed restriction reserving that the basement remain affordable. The redeveloped building features ground-floor retail space as well as a penthouse spanning the second and third levels.
Based on the settlement, rent is capped at a maximum of $50 per square foot in the basement, with standard annual increases. The space has been vacant and unfinished since 2012.
Community Development Director Chris Bendon said Tarumianz has had casual interest in the property but nothing binding. Though the city set the affordable-lease agreement, it has no say in negotiations between the owner and the prospective tenant. Who will foot the bill for the buildout is also out of the city’s hands.
“Ideally, we’d like to see a restaurant go in there that meets the terms of the agreement and everything works out as was originally envisioned,” Bendon said. “But eventually there may be a follow-up discussion with council about the space and if the restriction should continue on and if the restriction should be reconsidered at any point.”
He said that at some point, any tenant is better than a vacant space. With that logic, if it remains vacant, lifting of the restriction could become an option.
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Alex Rager believes that the search for affordable housing in the Roaring Fork Valley can sometimes boil down to luck and timing. “When you least expect it and when you most need it is when things happen,” she said.