J Crew coming to town | AspenTimes.com

J Crew coming to town

The new J Crew store will move into the Mill Street space once occupied by Eddie Bauer, and more recently, the Hyatt Grand Aspen sales offices. (Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times)

ASPEN ” Two high-profile national retailers are coming to town: J Crew and Burberry.

Both chain clothing stores have signed leases in downtown spaces. J Crew will move into where the current Hyatt Grand Aspen sales office is at 205 S. Mill St. Burberry is slated to move into the old Ute City Bank Building at the corner of Galena Street and Hyman Avenue.

Two real estate brokers who inked the leases confirmed that both retailers are committed to coming to Aspen. Spokespersons from both companies were unavailable for comment.

Burberry is currently remodeling the Ute City Bank space and could open as early as this winter, said commercial real estate broker Ruth Kruger.

But it won’t be until at least next summer that J Crew will move into its space, which used to house Eddie Bauer.

The Hyatt has a lease through the spring of 2008, and it occupies the entire space, which includes two levels. J Crew will take a portion of the space “2,800 square feet, 1,400 square feet on each level, said commercial real estate broker Bob Langley.

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He added that half of the top floor will be occupied by WestPac, a development company that is building base village in Snowmass. WestPac will occupy a 70-by-40-foot space and have access to the main door at the corner of Mill Street and Hopkins Avenue.

Office use is no longer allowed on the ground floor of commercial core buildings, but apparently WestPac was grandfathered in under the old rules, Langley said.

The owners of the building, Tony Mazza and Frank Woods, also would like to allow Cache Cache restaurant to expand into a portion of the space. That has not yet been decided or approved by city officials.

Langley said J Crew will be experimenting with a new store, similar to what it created in the Hamptons, called “J Crew at the Beach.” Here in Aspen, the concept store will be called “J Crew in the Mountains.”

“They want to cater to the Aspen customer,” Langley said, adding the concept store in New York apparently has done very well financially in the past couple of years. “The numbers generated made them confident that the concept works.”

Whether or not J Crew will be able to occupy the space during the height of the summer 2008 shopping season remains to be seen. Once J Crew gets a hold of the building, it will have to remodel. The downstairs portion currently is filled with replicas of Hyatt Grand Aspen timeshare units, complete with kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms and a fake bathroom.

“If they can get in there they will,” Langley said. “They understand the importance of summer business.”

Burberry is a 150-year luxury brand that’s sold throughout the world. Based in London, the clothing store is known internationally as cutting edge in its fashion design.

Some residents, including elected officials, might argue that Aspen needs more locally serving businesses and not more high-end luxury shops. But Langley said Aspen’s success attracts high-profile retailers.

“National retailers are aware that Aspen isn’t just good for the logo but it’s also good business,” Langley said. “It’s not just a lost leader. Aspen is hot.”