Business Monday: Clock ticks for Aspen retailers on 420 E. Hyman |

Business Monday: Clock ticks for Aspen retailers on 420 E. Hyman

Zocalito Latin Bistro's last day of business in Aspen was Saturday. The restaurant has been located at 420 E. Hyman Ave., whose owners plan to raze and replace the building as early as late 2019.
Rick Carroll/The Aspen Times

The tenuous nature of commercial tenancies is part of life for a number of downtown Aspen retailers, including a group of them at 420 E. Hyman Ave.

Located in the heart of the Hyman pedestrian mall, the two-story building is slated for redevelopment, but for the time being it appears that it will remain in its existing form until late 2019.

“We’re here until through next September (of 2019),” said Fino Docimo, who has run Annette’s Mountain Bake Shop with his wife for eight years. They expanded the tiny cafe, which spans roughly 400 square feet, in December to accommodate indoor diners.

Docimo said they negotiated their lease extension Friday morning.

The pet shop CB Paws also remains in the building through the fall of 2019, owner Steve Fante said last week.

Zocalito Latin Bistro, however, closed its doors Saturday after 14 years in the mall.

“They’re going to tear the building down and I don’t know when,” said Mike Beary, owner of Zocalito. “So we’ve been working on getting our space in Denver.”

The city also plans to redevelop downtown’s outdoor malls — in 2020 at the earliest — by ripping out the bricks and concrete on parts of Hyman and Cooper avenues, as well as segments of Mill and Galena streets. The city has said the mall is aging and must replace or upgrade the utility lines for water, gas, telephone, electric and stormwater. The brick malls’ surfaces also must be updated to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, which means the historic bricks, which are in limited supply, will likely be replaced with replicas providing a smooth, even surface.

Beary said Zocalito will open later this year in downtown Denver with a 2,685-square-foot space, including a patio, on 18th Street.

“We looked at a lot of markets — Austin, Seattle and Denver, and even downvalley at Willits,” he said.

The Aspen restaurant, at 1,900 square feet, staffed five to 12 employees, Beary said.

“The Aspen economy is not what it used to be when I came here,” he said. “And that puts a lot of pressure on you to stay in business.”

The building changed ownership in April 2017 when California-based Downtown 420 LLC bought it for $8.25 million. Downtown 420 is controlled by The Ezralow Cos of Calabasas, California, which didn’t respond to a message seeking comment last week.

The landlord has a pending building-permit application in front of the city. The application says the commercial and residential development will cost $4.8 million. The building also comes with city approvals for a third-floor penthouse dating to 2013; the city banned downtown penthouse developments in 2012, but not until after the then-owner of the 420 E. Hyman building submitted their land-use application. The scrape-and-replace project also calls for retail space and affordable housing.

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