Chicago businessman and real estate developer Mark Hunt is one of the principals behind a Colorado limited liability corporation that purchased The Gap building in downtown Aspen this week.
The $13.25 million deal closed on Thursday. Hunt — who also has invested in other downtown properties in the past, including the Hotel Jerome and the building that houses Above the Salt on the Mill Street Mall — appeared before the Historic Preservation Commission in July when the land-use application to redevelop The Gap parcel was being reviewed.
Hunt represented to the HPC board that he was the owner of the property, which at the time was under contract by an entity called 204 South Galena Street, LLC. The seller was Jerald Barnett, whose Arkansas-based Colorado Cable Co. had owned the building and the parking lot next to it since 1992.
The redevelopment plan received conceptual approval from the HPC in August. It involves redeveloping the building and parking lot next door into five street-level retail spaces, plus a second-level restaurant space with a large outdoor deck.
“Mark Hunt said on this site we are trying to build a pure retail-commercial building and give the tenants their own identity,” according to the minutes of the HPC’s July 25 meeting. “We want it to read as a corner building. We wanted to create a special place on the roof that is glassy yet hidden due to the parapet walls ...”
Hunt had requested that the Aspen law firm representing the LLC as the “contract purchaser” not reveal who was behind the corporation, for reasons unknown.
A source who requested anonymity said Hunt was looking for investors for the property and advertising the space as a “luxury retail development.” A piece of collateral seeking investors reads in part, “... investor will have the opportunity to participate in the second development on Galena for which Apple, Restoration Hardware, Christian Louboutin, Anthropologie and Hermes are all negotiating space.”
The piece also describes Galena Street as Aspen’s retail row and its answer to ‘Rodeo Drive,’ ‘Madison Avenue,’ ‘Bond Street’ or the ‘Avenue des Champs-Elyees’ with top luxury brands intertwined with art galleries, dining and local shops.”
Hunt didn’t return a call seeking comment.
The land-use application is scheduled for final review by the HPC on Dec. 12. City Council approval is not required under the proposal. The proposed new building is designed by Charles Cunniffe Architects, Inc.