Downtown property listed for $39 million
August 22, 2007
ASPEN A 15,000-square-foot swath of land downtown is on the block for $39 million, making it one of the most expensive and largest pieces of property in Aspen’s history to be up for sale.The property includes the large parking lot on the corner of Hunter Street and Hyman Avenue, the old Benton Building next to it and Little Annie’s Eating House.
Garret Brandt, a local attorney who represents the property’s owner, Ed Dingilian, confirmed Wednesday that the property went on the market this month. He said the Dingilian family came up with the $39 million price tag because of a strong downtown commercial market.Brandt said there has been some interest in the properties but declined to say whether the potential suitors are local. The property is listed with Mark Wyman, a broker with The Fleischer Co. Wyman was not available for comment Wednesday.Brandt added that the Dingilian family has plans for the land’s development and hopes the new owner can provide some kind of community asset, but it’s too soon to predict.”They do have visions if they can comply with the economic realities,” Brandt said. “Obviously with the dollars we are talking about that might not be feasible.”
Dingilian, a New York resident, owns the parking lot and the Benton Building, and has an ownership interest in the Little Annie’s business and the building. Little Annie’s most likely will remain a restaurant if the property falls under a new owner.”It is the Dingilian family’s deepest desire to keep Little Annie’s a restaurant,” Brandt said, adding if it’s not part of the new owner’s plan, the family will find a suitable replacement property in the downtown core to relocate Little Annie’s. “But our hope is to find a developer to keep Little Annie’s.”Dingilian’s parents bought the parking lot 40 years ago when he was a music student in Aspen. Since then, Dingilian has held onto it, renting out spaces for as much as $300 a piece. The property is valued at $6.3 million, according to the Pitkin County Assessor’s Office.Dingilian bought the Benton Building, located 521 E. Hyman Ave., in 2003 for $3.15 million. The 5,045-square-foot building is currently vacant. The property is named after local artist Tom Benton, who in 1963 bought the lot for $3,000. He built a studio and art gallery there, years before it became O’Leary’s bar and later, Zoe’s.
The Little Annie’s building was purchased for $2.15 million in 2005 by 517 East Hyman Holdings LLC, in which Dingilian is an investor.The real estate is zoned for uses allowed in the commercial core, which include retail, restaurant and offices on the ground floor, and lodging and residential on the upper floors, according to city codes. That means timeshares, fractionals, condominiums or apartments are allowed on the second and third floors. A developer could build a basement under the property as well.Local commercial brokers said it’s been decades since a property this size has gone on the market. The only comparable property is the building that houses the Wienerstube and Ajax Bike & Sports, along with the adjacent parking lot. That property is about 12,000 square feet and was purchased for $7 million. A development application for the ‘Stube building is currently under review by the City Council; it proposes six free-market residential units and 17,781 square feet of space for lease, which includes the restaurant.Carolyn Sackariason’s e-mail address is email@example.com.