Many showing interest in Isis | AspenTimes.com

Many showing interest in Isis

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen’s vacant Isis Theater has been attracting a lot of interest on the real-estate market of late, but one of the building’s owners last week dispelled persistent rumors that the movie house is about to reopen.

“I would say it is not on the verge of reopening,” said Heidi Houston, a member of the partnership that owns the Isis and one of three local brokers who are marketing the property.

“There are so many rumors flying because we’re having so many showings,” she said, confirming the Hopkins Avenue property is generating interest.

“The Isis is certainly being shown a lot,” Houston said. Two “major groups” looked at the property late last week, she said.

Many Aspenites continue to hold out hope that the Isis will reopen as a movie theater, but the parties looking at the building are considering its potential for a host of uses, according to Houston.

“From retail to theater to whatever, people have a whole range of ideas about what they want to do,” she said.

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The Isis has been for sale for nearly a year. Its owners put the five-screen cinema on the market for $13.3 million last May, shortly after Aspen voters rejected a proposed 0.2 percent sales tax that would have allowed the city to lease the theater.

The theater’s price tag remains unchanged, Houston said. It includes the theater auditoriums on the main floor and basement levels, plus the two three-bedroom employee units on the third floor.

The free-market penthouse on the third floor also happens to be on the market, though it is being sold separately from the rest of the building. It is listed for $2.8 million, according to Houston.

The Isis, formerly a funky one-screen theater, was purchased in 1997 by new owners who redeveloped it as a multiscreen, state-of-the-art cinema that reopened in December 1999. The seven-member partnership that owns the Isis put about $10 million into its redevelopment.

Financially troubled Resort Theaters of America leased the building and operated the Isis for about a year before pulling out in December 2000, shortly after the company filed for bankruptcy. The Isis has been vacant since then.

After the proposed sales tax that would have allowed the city to lease the theater with an option to buy it failed at the polls, the Isis owners began marketing the Isis for sale or lease. They also pursued renovation plans to accommodate various options for use of the building.

The Isis contains two large theater auditoriums on the ground floor and three smaller ones in the basement. The renovation plans included options to convert part of the upstairs to a new commercial use and retain one large theater on the main floor as well as the three small screens downstairs, or convert the entire ground floor to a new use and retain just the basement theaters.