After a nearly 21-year run in Aspen, the Gap is closing its doors for good in two weeks.
The final day of business in Aspen for the national clothier is Feb. 23. No big blowout sales are planned before the closing, aside from the normal Gap sales, a store employee said. The inventory that’s left will likely be moved to another store or back to the chain’s San Francisco headquarters.
The building that houses one of Aspen’s last affordable clothing retailers, located at the corner of Hopkins Avenue and Galena Street, will be demolished to make way for a new development that will include five new street-level storefronts and a restaurant on the second-floor rooftop.
Chicago businessman and real estate developer Mark Hunt is the primary investor behind the project. He and some investors purchased the building and the adjacent parking lot for $13.25 million in October.
The project had received approval from the city’s Historic Preservation Commission but is going back for review on Wednesday because the restaurateur that is in negotiations to occupy the rooftop space wants a larger footprint to accommodate bathrooms and other operational space.
Local architect Charles Cunniffe and land-use planner Mitch Haas, who are representing Hunt, said the additional square footage, which could be as much as 1,700 square feet, requires approval from the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission. That’s because the additional square footage will most likely trigger affordable housing mitigation whereas the original development plan did not. The plan also considers a possible future build-out of the building’s basement.
Haas said he likely will submit the modified plans to City Hall on Feb. 15. The planning commission is the ultimate approval body, unless Aspen City Council chooses to “call up” whatever decision is made.
Cunniffe said if everything goes as planned, demolition and new construction will begin in the spring and the new storefronts could be ready to be occupied as soon this fall. The restaurant will not be ready until next year.
The current building takes up 6,000 square feet on a 9,030-square-foot property — the rest is an undeveloped parking lot. The Gap retail clothing store occupies the entire 6,000-square-foot ground-level space and makes use of a full basement for storage purposes. The current building’s total calculated net-leasable area, according to the city, is 11,319 square feet. Without a developed basement and before the addition of space for the restaurant, the redeveloped building would have the same amount of net-leasable space as the Gap.
While a basement would be dug out, the developer plans to fill in most of that space so it is unusable. However, Cunniffe said Hunt would like the option to convert the basement into usable space in the future, but he would have to pay affordable housing mitigation fees to do so.
The Gap’s downtown store opened in 1992. It is among the increasingly rare affordable clothing retailers in Aspen, the number dwindling over the last 20 years. The Gap sits on a block that now includes luxury shops including Christian Dior, Gucci, Prada and Ermenegildo Zegna.
The corner’s redevelopment appears to be aimed at creating a home for similar luxury brands along one of Aspen’s chic downtown streets.
“Galena Street has become Aspen’s retail row,” reads the marketing brochure seeking investors for the redevelopment, “and its answer to ‘Rodeo Drive,’ ‘Madison Avenue,’ ‘Bond Street’ or the ‘Avenue des Champs-Elysees’ with top luxury brands intertwined with art galleries, dining and local shops.”
The brochure states that Apple, Restoration Hardware, Christian Louboutin, Anthropologie and Hermes have all taken steps to lease space in the redeveloped commercial building.
Gap, Inc. spokesperson Kimberly Terry couldn’t provide specific details on the store’s lease. She also couldn’t say how many employees would be losing their jobs but “we’re doing our best to place employees in open positions across our family of brands, including Banana Republic, Old Navy, Athleta, Gap Outlet and Banana Republic Factory Stores.” None of those stores are located in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Terry added, “We’ve really enjoyed being part of the Aspen community and while we don’t have plans to open a new location at this time, we will continue to explore options in the market.”