Restaurant Row building in Aspen sells for $14.8 million

Katie Reed Plaza, home to restaurants, office space, housing and the cottage building, recently sold for $14.8 million.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times

An Aspen native and a group of Florida investors are the new owners of the Katie Reed Plaza — home of Rustique Bistro, Meat and Cheese and other businesses — after acquiring it for $14.8 million on Jan. 4.

The historic cottage structure was included in the deal that also came with the Katie Reed Building at the corner of Hopkins Avenue and Monarch Street. The plaza was built in 1995 and is one of Restaurant Row’s corner anchors. The seller was Katie Reed Building LLC, a group of investors controlled by Aspen law firm Garfield & Hecht PC.

One of the new owners, Jimmy Marcus of Aspen, said the main building is wearing down and needs to be renovated.

“Basically, the plan is that we are going to do a full renovation of the building,” he said Thursday. “We’d like to do both an interior and exterior renovation of the building.”

Because the clock-tower building is located in the Commercial Core Historic District, certain renovations would be subject to review by the Historic Preservation Commission or city staff, said Amy Simon, the city’s historic preservation officer.

“All exterior changes to either the Cottage or the new structure behind it have some level of historic preservation design review, either by staff or HPC, depending on the scope,” Simon said in an email.

The cottage building, which was originally constructed around 1890, was relocated “slightly east of where it is now, and raised in height when the project was constructed in the early 1990s,” Simon said.

In addition to Rustique and Meat and Cheese, the Katie Reed Building also is home to the subterranean Hooch Craft Cocktail Bar and the Cooking School of Aspen. Upstairs commercial tenants include Aspen Signature Properties and Six Sigma Academy, as well as two worker-housing units that each have three bedrooms and cover more than roughly 950 square feet each, according to property records.

Business won’t be disrupted at Hooch or Meat and Cheese, Marcus said, but April 15 is the last day of business for Rustique, the Cooking School of Aspen and The Cottage Aspen.

Rob Itner owns all three of those businesses, and has them under contract to be sold with mid-April as the closing date. Itner put the trio of culinary establishments up for sale in August; it went under contract in October. They were originally advertised for $685,000, with the buyer entitled to the three businesses’ assets and leases, which all have less than 13 years remaining on them.

The current understanding is that they will close upon their selling, Marcus said.

The Katie Reed Plaza was not listed for sale at the time it changed ownership.

A fresh overhaul for both the plaza and building are in order, Marcus said, adding that the Rustique spot is ripe for “some new exciting concept and business operators that would like to come in and reimagine what this space could be.”

Those operators likely would be restaurateurs, he said.

“It’s our intention to invest a considerable amount of money,” he said. “It was built in the ’90s and hasn’t been renovated and is somewhat in disrepair and it needs a facelift and update, while honoring the historic nature of the Katie Reed cottage on the corner.

“That corner is in a primary area where people want to have fun, and we think it hasn’t seen its full potential.”

Marcus, the son of Aspen developer Steve Marcus and a member of the Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission, said he is well-acquainted with the delicacy that goes with redevelopment proposals in Aspen.

“We’re not proposing anything too major or too drastic that should be terribly controversial,” he said. “It will be tasteful and well within reason.”

The redevelopment won’t include any expansion, and Marcus said he would like it to be completed in time so that a new restaurant can open in time for the winter holidays.

But, he added, “These things never happen as fast as you want them to.”

The property currently has more than 21,000 square feet of leasable space.