Developers are close to leasing the restaurant space in the basement of the new Cooper Street Pier building, according to the building’s manager.
The 1,800-square-foot restaurant space is located in the basement of the four-story building at 508 E. Cooper Ave., which was built over the past two years. During litigation over building rights on the site, the property’s owners, which include local businessman Nikos Hecht and partners, struck a deal with the city to place an affordable restaurant and bar in the bottom space in exchange for a 4,638-square-foot penthouse on the top three floors. The city normally caps downtown condos at 2,500 square feet.
In 2007, city officials initially denied the project, but the developers sued the city and the parties spent six months negotiating. The final settlement placed a deed-restriction on the restaurant space, requiring the owners to make a reasonable attempt to fill the basement space with an eatery or bar that will pay rent that is 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. Meanwhile, it allowed the developers to increase the size of the penthouse.
The city gave building owners six months after the space received its certificate of occupancy to find a tenant or else the municipal government would be able to pick someone. The building received its certificate sometime in November, so time is running out for the owners to find a tenant, according to Lex Tarumianz, president of Pyramid Property Advisors, which manages the building.
There has been interest in the space and it appears a new tenant should be signing the lease soon, Tarumianz said.
“There’s definitely been some activity,” he said. “I think we’re pretty much there on the Cooper Street bar space.”
The new tenants will have to build out the kitchen and Tarumianz declined to comment on how much specifically the space will be rented out for on a per-square-foot basis. It will likely be in the $35- to $50-per-square foot range, he said.
Bob Langley, the commercial real estate broker listing the property, confirmed that the landlord is in negotiations with a tenant. He said he is not authorized to say specifically when the lease will be signed.
“But hopefully we’ll have leasing done in a timely fashion,” Langley said.
Chris Bendon, the city’s community development director, said the city hasn’t heard that a tenant was found for the space. If building owners successfully lease the space, the city will “occasionally review” the menu to ensure the restaurant is affordable.
Brunello Cucinelli, an Italian clothier, was the first tenant in the building. The high-end retailer leased the street-level space before the holidays where Cooper Street Pier and Bad Billy’s once existed. Building owners placed the luxury penthouse on the market for an unprecedented $17.6 million.