Tesla zooms out of Aspen, closes showroom on Cooper mall
The Tesla Motors showroom came to Aspen with a bang in December 2016 and left with a whimper last week.
The California maker of electric cars quietly left its space in the East Cooper Avenue pedestrian mall, where the former showroom’s windows are now covered with brown paper.
Tesla’s Aspen lease expires May 15, but it had eyed other spots in town to occupy to no avail.
“They looked at lots of spots we presented to them,” Aspen commercial broker Karen Setterfield said Tuesday. “They wanted to stay, and over the last year they looked at a lot of spaces but never moved forward.”
A well-known retailer has signed a lease for the abandoned space, said Setterfield, who declined to reveal its name at this time. And just walking steps away in the Cooper mall, Starbucks will be opening in the former space of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, though Setterfield said she doesn’t anticipate the Seattle-based coffee brewer to set up shop until the fall.
Tesla was able to open its Aspen showroom because at the time, the city’s land-use code allowed for automobile showrooms and dealerships in the commercial core.
The updated land-use code, however, which had revisions made to it last year, would require a conditional-use permit for a business such as Tesla to open in downtown Aspen, said Phillip Supino, a long-range planner for the city.
“If somebody wanted to do an automobile showroom in that zone district (the commercial core), they would have to go before P&Z,” he said.
Tesla, meanwhile, did not respond to a message seeking explanation for its departure from the Mark Hunt-owned building. Its website had removed Aspen from its store-locator page as of Tuesday. Other Colorado stores are located at Cherry Creek in Denver, Little-Broadway and Lone Tree-Park Meadows. The (Boulder) Daily Camera also reported Tuesday that Tesla would add its second sales and service center in Colorado in the town of Superior by spring 2019.
Founded in 2003 by Elon Musk, who also founded SpaceX, Tesla produces luxury, futuristic vehicles commanding more than six figures. The Aspen showroom offered its sleek product for people to take out for a spin, but its on-site cars were for test drives only.
In 2017, the carmaker sold more than 100,000 Model S Sedans and Model X SUVs, helping it increase its total annual revenue by 33 percent to $11.76 billion, nasdaq.com reported Tuesday.
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