Silverpeak fails to stave off new cannabis competitor

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times
The downtown building at 520 E. Cooper Ave. soon will house its third-marijuana related business, Best Day Ever, which will sell recreational cannabis. Other tenants building are Silverpeak Apothecary, which sells cannabis, and the head shop One Love Aspen Smokeshop & Oxygen Bar.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

The 300 block of East Hopkins Avenue is known as “restaurant row,” so it might be fitting to call the 500 block of East Cooper Avenue “pot-head quarters.”

The Local Licensing Authority on Tuesday unanimously approved a recreational marijuana license for majority owner Michael Gurtman’s application to open Best Day Ever in suite 202A at 520 E. Cooper Ave. His small shop will be located above Silverpeak Apothecary, making it Aspen’s ninth recreational cannabis dispensary, according to City Clerk Linda Manning.

Some of Gurtman’s neighbors are opposed to the shop, including Jordan Lewis, co-owner of Silverpeak and the High Valley Farms marijuana greenhouses in the Basalt area.

“First of all, the needs of the community have been exceeded already,” Lewis told the board. “I’m all for healthy competition, but if we look at how the industry has evolved in Carbondale and Glenwood … when you start double-stacking them in a residential building in the downtown core, you’re changing the nature of town.”

Lewis’ plea fell short of persuading the Local Licensing Authority to deny Gurtman’s application. The property meets the zoning requirements and Gurtman’s application passed the muster. After the meeting, Gurtman said he still needs approval for his state license. He and his partners have a cultivation center in Glenwood Springs with plans to supply the entire inventory in the Aspen store.

Silverpeak, which is in the basement level of 520 E. Cooper Ave., didn’t stand alone in opposition to Best Day Ever, which also would be located on the same floor as One Love Aspen Smokeshop & Oxygen Bar.

Four emails were sent to the city from building tenants against the new shop, including Lexi McNutt of Knight Group Investments. McNutt’s email said One Love draws a number of folks who “often spills out onto the shared balcony. … If the atmosphere of the marijuana shop is the same, the people hanging out all along the balcony from One Love to the new proposed location, I am concerned that the overall impact on the floor will be negative to the office users who have been here for many years.”

Lewis also claimed that an upstairs tenant — he wouldn’t say whom — “congregates outside, they drop their cigarette butts, they spit …”

Gurtman countered, “There will be no spitting or smoking from my facility.”

Besides, noted Local Licensing Authority members, the regulation of spitting and smoking are not in their jurisdiction.

“That’s more of a condo association problem,” said member Bill Murphy. “If they want rules, that’s up to them. We are judging whether the license should be granted based on the evidence we’ve got, based on whether the zoning is correct.”

Member Terry Murray agreed: “I don’t think we’ve gotten to the point where we can legislate outdoor smoking and spitting.”

Gurtman, who once owned The Meatball Shack in Aspen, which permanently closed earlier this year, said he plans to focus on a limited supply of cannabis products to keep the shopping experience simple for consumers. He said he is aiming for an August opening.

Gurtman owns 51 percent of the Aspen operation; Spencer Schiffer and Richard Rosin are his partners in Osiris LLC, which earned the approval of the Glenwood Springs City Council in November to operate a grow facility at 2150 Devereux Road.