Guest commentary: Landlords explain Paradise decision
As the property manager of the Volk Plaza Building where Paradise Bakery is currently located, I am writing to clarify the current misconceptions and provide some facts that are relevant to the story.
A recent news article (“Overwhelming community support felt for Paradise Bakery,” May 8, Aspen Daily News) reported that “the Pattersons learned in November that their lease would not be renewed” and “there was never a negotiation with the Hechts.” In fact, discussions with Mark and Danny Patterson started in 2016 when it became apparent that the building’s anchor tenant was considering an expansion that would reconfigure the retail level of the building.
As part of this process, we offered Paradise the opportunity to remain in the building by moving to the P.E. 101 space, immediately adjacent to its current location. In January 2017, we had our architect meet with the Pattersons to discuss potential redesigns of the P.E. 101 space in order to accommodate the bakery and its access to the plaza. The reconfiguration also ensured that Paradise could continue to access its workspace in the basement of the building through an internal staircase. It was reported that the P.E. 101 space was smaller than the current Paradise location, but the space that was offered actually included more retail square footage. At the time, the Pattersons said that the new, larger space could not be programmed as efficiently as their current space and rejected our offer.
While the suggested move “next door” for Paradise may not have been viewed by Danny and Mark as ideal, it was a viable opportunity that allowed them to stay in the building and “on the corner” with full use of the plaza. There are times in any business (real estate or other) where tough and complicated decisions have to be made, and this was one of those cases for all involved.
Once they decided that the P.E. 101 space wouldn’t work, we continued to work with Danny and Mark to find a new home. In 2017 and 2018, we offered them the opportunity to move to a Hyman Avenue location currently occupied by Isberian Rugs. There is a patio in front of that space, and we thought it would be a good location for Paradise. Again, they declined that offer.
In 2017, we also notified them about the upcoming closure of Peach’s Corner Cafe across from City Hall, a vibrant corner in town that has been a successful location over the years for restaurants, bakeries and coffee shops.
And in 2018 we connected Danny and Mark with Mark Hunt, who plans to redevelop the corner across from the Wheeler Opera House on the Mill Street mall. Our understanding is that they are continuing to negotiate a possible relocation to that site, right next to the fountain and one of the most popular gathering spots in town. We believe this also would be a great location for Paradise, and we hope it works out.
While it is true that they offered to pay rent equal to that being paid the building’s anchor tenant, Danny and Mark had already made it clear that they were not interested in the P.E. 101 space we offered. As a result, we signed a lease for that spot with a new tenant to operate a cafe. We are committed to keeping the corner at Galena Street and Cooper Avenue public and vibrant with a cafe for years to come. Andy Hecht, Nikos Hecht and I appreciate that the corner of Galena and Cooper is an important gathering space for the community and our visitors, and we understand the consternation over the eventual relocation of Paradise Bakery. We understood from the beginning that this is a sensitive issue for the community, and none of the decisions that we made were in haste. We believe that there is an opportunity for all involved to successfully move forward from here.
Ideally, Paradise will find a new home in the core of Aspen and it will continue to be one of the community’s many great gathering locations.
Lex Tarumianz is a 23-year resident of Aspen and a local real estate professional. He manages a number of commercial buildings in town, including the Volk Plaza Building at Galena Street and Cooper Avenue.