ASPEN - The sale of the 47-year-old Mountain Plaza building at the corner of East Cooper Avenue and South Galena Street closed Friday afternoon for $22 million, according to Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder's Office records.
In late 2010, the building and lot were listed for $30 million. The listing price later was reduced to $27 million. Though it sold for less than the listed asking price, it was still the fourth-most expensive real estate transaction in the county this year.
Karen Setterfield, of Setterfield and Bright Real Estate, represented the building owner, Bert Bidwell Investment Corp., in the negotiations. She identified the buyer only through its corporate name, 434 E. Cooper Ave. LLC. The broker for the buyer was Lorrie Winnerman, of Lorrie B. Aspen Real Estate.
"We have had lots of interested parties in the building," Setterfield said. "All of the parties seemed to have a different vision of what the property could become because of its prominent location and the size of the lot at over 9,000 square feet. There are not many properties like that."
The new owner wants to tear down the 16,900-square-foot building and replace it with an estimated 14,000-square-foot, 28-foot-high, two-story structure with subgrade space, an outdoor deck and no residential component. The second story would be set back from the street significantly, according to project plans.
The development application is undergoing the city approval process. Planner Mitch Haas and architect Charles Cunniffe Jr. have represented the developer in recent talks with city officials. On Dec. 12, the Historic Preservation Commission gave the project conceptual approval. On Jan. 14, the Aspen City Council is expected to deal with the proposal through its "call-up" process. Council members can either accept the decision, send it back to the commission for further review or continue to discuss it at another meeting.
Mountain Plaza, often referred to as the Bidwell building, currently has many tenants, including Kemo Sabe, Ryno's Pints and Pies, Ravenheart Gallery, the Sports Center, Le Tub, Keating Fine Art Gallery and ReMax Real Estate, Super Relax Spa and Bank of America. Development plans call for the new building to have only three tenant spaces.
Bert Bidwell Investment Corp. is owned by three children of Bert Bidwell, a 10th Mountain Division veteran who built the building in 1965. Bidwell died in 1997.
Another prominent building in Aspen - across the street from Mountain Plaza - officially sold on Friday, as well. The 9,700-square-foot Volk Plaza, built in 1986, sold for $17.25 million, according to Clerk's Office records. The seller was Volk Plaza LLC, and the buyer was Galena Cooper LLC.
The building, at 500 E. Cooper Ave., houses Paradise Bakery and two other businesses. Setterfield, who also represented the seller of that property, said the new owner is not planning to redevelop the structure.