Realtor: Prospective buyer of Explore wants to maintain Aspen bookstore
A man who has a contract to purchase Explore Booksellers wants to preserve the iconic Aspen business, according to the real estate broker representing him.
“The intent is to keep it a bookstore,” said Maureen Stapleton, a real estate broker for Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty. She said she represents the buyer.
Her client doesn’t want to be identified because the property at 221 E. Main St. is only under contract at this point, she said. The sale is scheduled to close no later than Jan. 21.
Stapleton said the prospective buyer is “someone who loves Aspen” and a second homeowner who frequently visits the area. He has formed Explore 221 Main LLC to complete the transaction.
The Aspen Times reported last week that Explore was under contract for sale in a $4.6 million cash deal. That includes the 1886 house where the bookstore is located as well as books, computers and other business assets.
Current owner Samuel Wyly filed a motion Friday in his bankruptcy case in Texas for court permission to sell the bookstore. Unlike other assets owned by Wyly, the bookstore isn’t frozen as part of the bankruptcy proceeding, Wyly’s attorney contended in the motion.
“In this case, the debtor will be steadily working to monetize certain estate assets in order to satisfy the allowed claims of creditors,” Wyly’s motion said. “The sale of the Explore property is just the beginning of that process.”
Wyly, a Dallas businessman who spends part of his time in Woody Creek, put the bookstore up for sale prior to filing for bankruptcy Oct. 19. His initial asking price was $6.5 million. The asking price was then reduced to $5.5 million.
Wyly purchased Explore for $4.4 million in March 2007, and soon spent $500,000 in improvements and upgrades, the motion said. A company controlled by his wife, Cheryl, operates the business and owns the inventory.
The listing broker for the bookstore is Karen Setterfield.
Stapleton said there has been considerable concern since the possible sale was reported that the bookstore site was being purchased for redevelopment. Her client agreed to release information announcing his intent to keep the bookstore operating, she said.
The motion filed by Wyly in bankruptcy court said Explore “is not a profitable venture” and called it a “semi-philanthropic business endeavor.”
Stapleton said her client is well aware of challenges facing Explore as well as bookstores around the country. If the judge in the bankruptcy case approves the sale, her client intends to “see how he can make it more of a 21st century bookstore,” she said.
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