Pearl seller buys restaurant-row building |

Pearl seller buys restaurant-row building

Andre Salvail The Aspen Times

A California dealer of pearls has purchased a “pearl” of another sort — the 316 E. Hopkins Ave. classic Victorian structure that has housed several restaurants over the past few decades.

Ajax JMG Investments LLC, a company formed by Gary Tarna, of Los Angeles, bought the building for $3.2 million from 316 East Hopkins LP. The transaction closed on May 8, according to information on the Pitkin County assessor’s website.

The building was never officially listed for sale. Aspen attorney Joseph Krabacher, one of the original investors in 316 East Hopkins LP, said Wednesday that he and his partners bought the building in 1992 for around $300,000.

Since then, tenants have included The Howling Wolf, Thai Tini, Genre Bistro and LuLu Wilson, Krabacher said. It is presently occupied by Steakhouse 316, which is owned and operated by Craig Cordts-Pearce. The purchase will not negatively affect Steakhouse 316’s lease, real estate sources familiar with the deal said.

Krabacher said the building was constructed in the late 19th century as a mining cabin and is part of Aspen’s inventory of historic properties. It was converted from residential to commercial use well before his group obtained it. Assessor’s records show that it was built in 1888.

“It’s definitely one of the classic Victorians in town,” Krabacher said. “It was originally constructed on a rubble foundation.”

The basement was built by The Howling Wolf in the 1990s, he said. The cafe’s owners raised the building so that the first floor sits a few inches higher than ground level.

The building counts about 1,300 square feet of first-floor space and about 1,700 square feet of basement space. Its actual value, according to the Assessor’s Office, is $2.4 million.

Bill Small, an Aspen real-estate broker with Frias Properties, brought the buyer to the table, real estate sources said. Small did not return a phone message Wednesday.

Tarna is president of Japan-based Pearls of Nippon Ltd. A phone message left with a California company that lists him as a primary contact was not returned Wednesday.

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