City of Aspen to sell historic West End home for $3.8 million

The city of Aspen is poised to sell a house it owns in a West End neighborhood for about the same price as when the government acquired it over a decade ago.

The city purchased the three-bedroom, two-bathroom home at 312 W. Hyman Ave. in 2007 for $3.5 million.

Aspen City Council on Monday will consider approving a real estate contract with a buyer described as a Louisana-based LLC called Sopris Center for $3.8 million.

That price was a counter offer made by the city after Sopris Center initially offered $3.6 million last month.

With closing costs and real estate commissions, the city’s return would be $3.6 million.

“We’re basically breaking even,” said city capital asset director Jeff Pendarvis on Thursday.

The property was originally listed for almost $4.9 million and then reduced last summer to $4.4 million and then again to $3.95 million this past fall.

This isn’t the first time the property has been listed. The city put it up in 2009 for $3.5 million.

“During the initial listing the property generated little interest and had no showings and only two offers to trade the property,” Pendarvis wrote in a memo to council. “City Council had the property appraised by Aspen Appraisal Group for $2,650,000.

“During the scrutiny of the property in 2009 it was revealed that the property only yields five (transfer development rights) and not the 7-8 previously thought,” the memo reads. “Given the economy and state of the real estate market at that time, council decided to hold the property instead of taking less than the purchase price.”

The city bought the property from Jordie Gerberg because he planned to sell it and have it demolished to make way for a new home.

Council then designated the property historic, which prevented it from being torn down. Historic Preservation officials noted the home’s architecture reflects the history of Aspen as it became a ski resort. The chalet-style, two-story house was built in 1956.

Pendarvis said there are signs of previous ownership attempting to mask certain architectural elements on the exterior of the home in attempt to disguise its historic significance.

And while the city didn’t make any money on the deal, it saved an asset that would have otherwise seen a scrape-and-replace development.

“The house is protected, so it won’t be torn down,” Pendarvis said.

The city had rented the nearly 2,000-square-foot property to an individual through the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority for just over $2,000 a month. That person moved out in May.

Other than as a rental, the home doesn’t have much use to the city, Pendarvis pointed out in the memo.

“The property is an underperforming asset for the housing development fund and returns very little for the $3.5 million used to purchase it,” he wrote. “The historic designation on the property makes it undesirable to most investors/developers. The opportunity to add onto the structure is limited by the location on the property of the existing house and the proximity to the large trees that line the alley.”

However, Pendarvis said Thursday that the buyer is looking to develop a carriage house or a similar structure behind the house.