More Aspen stores, restaurants lining up |

More Aspen stores, restaurants lining up

Andre SalvailThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – The rush is on to open new retail stores and restaurants in time for Aspen’s winter 2011-12 tourism season, with a few more tenants signing up in recent days for a shrinking number of available commercial spaces.Commercial real estate broker Karen Setterfield said Tuesday that Lululemon Athletica – a chain that sells running and yoga apparel for men and women at numerous stores in North America, Australia and Asia – will move into the small spot at 103 S. Mill St. vacated earlier this year by J.R. Austin Belt and Buckle Co.Lululemon has already hired a store manager. The opening is tentatively planned for Dec. 15, Setterfield said.The owners of J.R. Austin have moved to Wisconsin for family reasons, Setterfield said. Their 732-square-foot store was open at 103 South Mill, across the street from La Cantina, for about a year.”This store has a huge following, and everybody is happy about this,” Setterfield said of Lululemon, which also has locations in Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs. The chain promotes a lifestyle centered around fitness and healthy eating.In another development, an unnamed tenant has taken the space in North Mill Station, near Clark’s Market, that became available this fall after a local franchise of pizza delivery chain Papa John’s closed shop.An employee of M&W properties, a local property-management firm, said the former Papa John’s space will remain a restaurant operation. She said she was not at liberty to say who will operate the new eatery or when it will open.Setterfield said the former Helly Hansen store at 430 E. Cooper Ave., in the pedestrian mall, has been leased for the winter only. The space, which boasts 30 feet of storefront, will become available for a long-term tenant after the upcoming tourist season, she said.She declined to name the company that is leasing the space for the short term. It will be occupied by “an upscale retail tenant that wants to remain confidential until they open in two weeks.”That mystery aside, what may be the most anticipated new business in the community will be opening in the restaurant space at the city-owned Wheeler Opera House in mid-January.Michele Kiley, co-owner of Specialty Foods of Aspen/The Cheese Shop, said the new restaurant at the Wheeler will be called Justice Snow’s. The name is a reference to a 19th-century justice of the peace who was around during the time the opera house opened.Kiley and partner Marco Cingolani started the restaurant company that will operate Justice Snow’s, Fiercely Local LLC, earlier this year when it was among several companies bidding for the lease at the Wheeler. After a competitive process that included public presentations, long City Council discussions and private negotiations, Fiercely Local won a five-year lease for the space at the corner of South Mill Street and East Hyman Avenue.It was formerly held by Bentley’s, a longtime bar and restaurant operation that was popular with local residents. Bentley’s sought to return to the space but did not make the final cut of four restaurateurs vying for the spot.Kiley said more details about the new operation would be released in the near future. On Tuesday, she was busy with the liquidation of The Cheese Shop at 601 E. Hopkins Ave. That store is closing so that Kiley and Cingolani can concentrate on Justice Snow’s.Setterfield said a lease agreement is pending for the 301 E. Hopkins Ave. space known as “The Cottage.” She also noted that a vacant restaurant space at 414 E. Hyman Ave., in the Hyman pedestrian mall, is available through property manager and broker Rob Snyder.The Pitkin County Steakhouse & Tavern property at 305 E. Hyman Ave. also is available, she added.Setterfield said the scramble for retail and restaurant spaces is as busy as it’s been in her many years of handling real estate in Aspen. “I’d say it’s like a game of musical chairs, and all the chairs have been pulled out,” she