Mark Hunt eyes Boomerang site in Aspen for purchase
The site of the old Boomerang Lodge is under contract again for purchase, this time involving a buyer who is well-known in Aspen’s real estate arena.
Mark Hunt, the Chicago developer whose bullish approach to Aspen commercial properties accounted for more than $100 million in transactions in the early- to mid-2010s, has had the 500 W. Hopkins Ave. property under contract for about three weeks, sources said.
“He said it was under contract and they were doing their due diligence,” West Hopkins resident Steve Goldenberg said Tuesday.
Hunt met with Goldenberg and two other nearby property owners about two or three weeks ago, Goldenberg said.
“He spoke with a group of neighbors and said he was planning to build residential,” said Goldenberg, who has banded with neighbors in the past to fight redevelopments of the Boomerang they did not like.
Those close to the pending deal were mostly mum Tuesday, and Hunt did not return messages seeking comment.
The owners of the property, which include Steve Stunda, the local representative behind FSP ABR LLC, and his partners at Baltimore-based Alex Brown Realty, are using attorney Michael Hoffman as their legal representation.
Hoffman confirmed Tuesday the property “is under contract and the name of the buyer is an entity.”
Hoffman could not confirm Hunt is behind the entity that has the property under contract. Mark Darrington, the senior vice president out of CBRE Hotels’ Denver office who is marketing the Boomerang site for sale, declined to discuss any developments with the property.
“I cannot comment at this point,” he said.
Austrian immigrant Charles Paterson opened the Boomerang Lodge in 1956 and sold it and a neighboring parcel in 2005. The property has been through a series of potential development scenarios over the past 13 years, most recently when a group called ME Aspen Ventures One LLC eyed it for a 36,000-square-foot building comprising free-market condos, rental suites and lodge units.
ME Aspen Ventures One, which had the property under contract for purchase, walked out from the deal in January after realizing its redevelopment plan would not fly with Aspen City Council.
In March, the current owners let their land-use approvals, which date back to 2006, expire. Those approvals would have allowed them to build a four-story, 47-room lodge at 45,000 square feet, along with free-market condos, affordable housing and an underground parking garage.
“The only thing sitting there is the underlying zoning and a glint in somebody’s eyes,” Hoffman said. “It’s a 27,000-square-foot parcel, and it’s considered a single parcel at this point and therefore would require a land-use review process to do anything other than that.”
Meanwhile, the business division of the Colorado Secretary of State’s website shows that an entity called Hopkins and Fourth LLC was established March 28. The Boomerang Lodge is located at Hopkins and Fourth Street, and the LLC lists Aspen attorney Curtis Sanders as its registered agent.
Sanders, who could not be reached Tuesday, also is the registered agent for a number of other Hunt-controlled entities, including:
• 414-422 East Cooper Avenue LLC, which bought the Red Onion building for $18 million in September 2015;
• 434 East Cooper Avenue LLC, which bought the Bidwell Building for $22 million in December 2012;
• 730 East Cooper LLC, which bought Buckhorn Arms Building for $445,800 in March 2013. The property, whose tenants include Domino’s Pizza and Sammy’s Barbershop, has approvals to be razed and replaced with a lodge.
• 517 East Hopkins Avenue LLC, which bought the former Aspen Daily News building for $10 million in June 2014;
• 312 East Hyman Avenue LLC, which acquired the old Crystal Palace building for $12.5 million in September 2013 and currently has a pending building permit application to redevelop the property into a boutique hotel;
• 232 East Main Street LLC, which bought the Conoco property at the same named address for $6 million in June 2014;
• 305-307 Mill Street LLC, which bought the property currently occupied by the Grey Lady and Jimmy’s Bodega restaurants, as well as the Ajax Donuts stand, for $5.1 million in April 2010;
• 204 South Galena Street LLC, which acquired the old Gap building for $13.25 million in October 2012 and redeveloped it into the building that houses Aspen Kitchen and Theory, among other tenants.
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Onsite parking won out over a Turkish bath at a new lodge planned to be built across from City Market. Aspen’s elected officials didn’t want to burden the neighborhood with offsite parking for the new hotel.