A new luxury penthouse in Aspen is on the market for $17.6 million, which one local real estate expert said is a record-setting listing price for a downtown condo.
The “Aspen Penthouse,” as it is being marketed, is at 508 E. Cooper Ave., in the building that replaced the Cooper Street Pier restaurant and bar. The affordable eatery was known as Bad Billy’s in the two years before redevelopment.
At 4,638 square feet, the condo is larger than what underlying zoning allows. In order to promote greater density, city rules cap downtown residential units at a maximum of 2,500 square feet.
The condo’s large size, which encompasses three floors and multiple terraces, is a result of lawsuit settlement negotiations. In 2007, Aspen City Council denied a redevelopment application for the property, even though the project met the height and mass standards established in zoning rules at the time. Council, however, found that the proposal was not in line with the Aspen Area Community Plan, due to inadequate affordable housing and concerns about the demise of a long-time local eatery. The initial application was a for a mixed-use building with retail and office space and a condo that was under the 2,500-square-foot limit. The developers sued after the application was denied, challenging the council’s decision as “arbitrary and capricious.”
In September, 2008, the city and the property’s owners — including local businessman Nikos Hecht and partners — reached settlement terms. The property owners got the right to build the 4,638-square-foot penthouse, but agreed to deed restrict the new building’s basement space so it can only be an “affordable” restaurant. The owners must make a good-faith effort to find a tenant who will be charged rent no greater than 75 percent of the free-market rate of a similar space in downtown Aspen, and not greater than $50 per square foot for the first year. If the owners can’t fill the 1,800-square-foot space after six months, the city has the option to try and find a tenant. The restaurant space remains empty. A luxury clothing retailer is open in the street-level space.
The listing price of $17.6 million for the four-bedroom, four-bath condo breaks down to just under $3,800 a square foot.
“I would say that’s probably a record listing price,” said Bill Small, a real estate broker at Frias Properties who is not involved with the project. “Whether they get that, you’ll never know.”
Small added that he has not seen any condo deals in Aspen that have closed anywhere near that price. But with new downtown free market condos recently banned under new zoning rules, the property is even more unique.
“I’m sure they are in no rush to sell it,” Small said. “They know there is not much competition for that kind of thing.”
The high listing price signals that “primo properties — and there are very few in that category — are getting primo prices,” Small said.
“If you had the right product in the right place, it’s like the recession didn’t exist,” he said.
Hecht is also behind an approved-but-unbuilt development at the corner of Hunter Street and Hyman Avenue that will see a 6,900-square-foot penthouse. That deal was reached after developers agreed to preserve the neighboring Little Annie’s and Benton buildings, which were slated for demolition in a plan brought forward in 2011.
The Cooper Avenue penthouse has been officially on the market for about three months. Listing broker Joshua Saslove, of Joshua and Co., said the listing has generated “serious interest” and he has shown the property several times.