Aspen becomes a one gas station town

The Conoco gas station on Main Street has closed to make way for a new bank to be built in its place.
Carolyn Sackariason/The Aspen Times

For the first time in at least three decades, Aspen is now a one-gas-station town.

The Conoco at 232 E. Main St. closed at the end of the month in preparation for the lot it sits on to be developed into a bank building.

The closure forces Aspen motorists to go a block away to the Shell station at Local’s Corner for gas and sundries.

Mike Haisfield, owner of both gas stations, said business has picked up at Local’s Corner but it’s not so busy that people can’t get what they need.

“It’s been busier but it’s nothing that we can’t handle,” he said, adding he will buy more gasoline if the market demands it.

Haisfield noted that he is rolling out in the next week a loyalty program across his three stations located in Aspen, Basalt and Carbondale, the latter two being Valero stations, so customers can get discounts on gas and other items such as coffee.

He has been running the two Aspen stations since the 1990s. The price difference at the pump between the two business varied somewhere within 5 cents, he said.

On Monday, the price of gas at Shell was $4.19 a gallon for 85 octane and $4.69 for premium.

The next closest gas station is the Aspen Business Center about 3 miles west of town.

Mario Zulian, owner of Eco Steam Wash, a car detailing shop that has been operating for several years in the Conoco building on Main Street, will move when construction work begins.

Mark Hunt, the developer of the property, confirmed Monday that he plans to break ground on the bank building project in November.

The project is estimated to take between 12 and 18 months.

Hunt had proposed a 37-room lodge with a restaurant and lounge on the property, but a majority of Aspen voters rejected it in 2015.

The vote was instigated by a petition drive that successfully aimed to overturn Aspen City Council’s variances given to the lodge, like more allowable floor area and additional setbacks from the street.

Proponents of the project argued that Hunt could just build a similarly sized building with less density; opponents characterized that as a threat.

Hunt has said in the past that the commercial building will be between 6,000 and 7,500 square feet.

He and investors bought the property, which has a footprint of 6,000 square feet, for $6 million in June 2014.

The existing Conoco building, erected in 1985, has a total area of 1,637 square feet, according to the Pitkin County Assessor’s Office.

Mike Metheny, the city’s chief building official, said a building permit has been submitted but not yet approved for the property. The valuation of the construction puts the project at $3.7 million, he noted.

Chris Bendon, Hunt’s land-use planner, said he expects the permit to be approved “any day now.”