Commercial space in downtown Aspen still moving during pandemic |

Commercial space in downtown Aspen still moving during pandemic

The outdoor dining space at Jour de Fete, as shown late Friday afternoon. The ground-level space occupied by the restaurant and the Grog Shop, 710 E. Durant Ave., sold for $7.45 million last week.
Rick Carroll/The Aspen Times

In a summer where eight-figure home sales in Aspen have seemed routine, the commercial market is showing more worldly figures.

In just four business days in September, the Aspen area generated residential property sales of $10.25 million, $12.2 million, $13.26 million, $15 million and $19 million, according to data from the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s Office.

On the commercial side, two unrelated property deals combined for nearly $15 million last week, accounting for more than a fourth of dollar-sales volume in downtown Aspen’s commercial real estate market so far this year.

Aspen’s commercial scene historically takes a stepchild role to the lucrative residential arena. Commercial property sales in all of Pitkin County, for instance, totaled $74.3 million in 2019, accounting for 4% of all property sales that year.

Yet commercial demand is higher this year, based on transactions alone.

Commercial sales in Aspen’s commercial core were at $57 million for the year through Friday, according to Randy Gold of Aspen Appraisal Group. That’s already more than the $52 million in sales recorded in downtown Aspen during the entire 2019.

“I think there is still strong demand to buy, but as usual not much for sale,” Gold said in an email. “And buyers (are) likely looking at more conservative cap rates than we have seen in the last few years.”

Among last week’s commercial transactions was the sale of three units in the Durant Mall for $7.45 million, according to property records.

Those units, comprised of the Jour de Fete restaurant and the Grog Shop, were acquired by Durant Landlord, a limited liability company formed in February and controlled by Aspen real estate investor Mark Friedland, according to public records. The seller was Iacono Family Investments of Tucson, Arizona.

Tenants such as Jour de Fete have secure leases, said restaurant owner Olivier Mottier.

The other transaction completed developer Mark Hunt’s acquisition of the Wheeler Square building on the 300 block of Hyman Avenue.

Hunt’s 315 East Hyman Avenue Holdings II LLC bought five units for $7.4 million from attorney Gideon Kaufman, who is listed as the seller of the Wheeler Square Condominiums property at 315 E. Hyman Ave.

Through another LLC, Hunt bought the rest of the condo building for $10.6 million in January.

The deal gives the Hunt LLC control of the building, whose tenants include a restaurant and bike shop. Hunt could not be reached for comment regarding his intentions for the property.

Retail and restaurants tenants, still facing economic uncertainty over the next 12 months, continue to show interest in Aspen space.

“Perhaps surprising though, reportedly strong demand from tenants for all kinds of spaces that are well located including retail, restaurant and office,” he said.

Commercial broker Ruth Kruger agreed, noting “there remains tremendous interest in rentals, but the commercial sales demand is pretty quiet. I anticipated little demand for rentals with many national and international retailers filing for bankruptcy, but any spaces available have had lots of interest and have been quickly rented.”