Noodle bar next in Aspen spot?

Aspen Times Staff Report
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” The now defunct Aspen Comedy Club will be transformed into five retail spaces that could include a noodle bar and an Apple store.

The Aspen City Council on Tuesday granted Peter Fornell an exemption from a city moratorium that forbids the issuance of building permits in the commercial core zone district.

Fornell, whose brother-in-law recently purchased the space at 520 E. Cooper Ave., told the council he envisions five distinct businesses in the space. Several business associates and friends have approached Fornell about opening shops in the location, he said.

One consideration is a partner in Matsuhisa, which wants to open a noodle bar, with menu items ranging $7 to $14. In another space,

Fornell also said he has a friend who is a part-time local who owns an Apple store in California and has expressed interest in opening a shop in Aspen. The store would sell Macintosh products such as laptops, desktops, iPods and other merchandise. It would provide technical support but not repair, Fornell said in a memo to the council. A shoe store in a third space also is being contemplated.

The moratorium was put in place while the City Council decides how to regulate the commercial mix downtown so there are locally serving businesses and not all high-end retail shops. City Hall is working with a consultant in developing potential legislative options.

The intent of the moratorium essentially is to freeze existing uses until the council determines whether to regulate downtown commercial spaces.

Fornell said he wants to reconfigure the space so a stairwell leads directly off the sidewalk to a courtyard and a 12-foot-wide atrium area, which would provide access to the retail shops. A retractable glass front door would be installed at the entrance of the indoor area. Fornell envisions one of the spaces to be used for light food service, possibly a noodle bar.

Fornell said by renting the spaces from as low as $1,800 to as much as $4,200 a month, he and his partner can make the plan financially viable. That puts the square-footage rate in the mid-$70 range.