Rental space available in Aspen

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— Downtown Aspen's commercial and office space is becoming increasingly available as storefront vacancies continue to climb and many landlords don't lower rents.

That's according to industry observers, tenants and commercial brokers who operate in the somewhat underground world of Aspen leasing.

Lush Cosmetics, at 535 E. Cooper Ave., is the latest to pull up roots here. Sources say the owners decided not to renew the lease, which expires at the end of September. The building's landlords, Andy Hecht and Ron Garfield, reportedly are asking $150 a square foot for the high-profile space near the gondola.

But whether that kind of space can command that kind of rent remains to be seen.

"Prices that landlords were looking to get, they won't get," said commercial broker Ruth Kruger, adding that she is telling potential retailers that they won't get a good deal but "they'll get a great space for a good price."

Commercial broker Bob Langley said unlike in years past, it's difficult to know what market price is for downtown rents.

"There is no reasoning with the market because no one is making deals," he said.

But one thing is for certain - commercial brokers are busier than they've ever been trying to fill empty or potentially empty space.

Brokers say there are 24 to 30 available spaces, or spaces that could be available because landlords are willing to let their tenants out of their leases. Many downtown leases expire in October, and several businesses are renegotiating with their landlords, though some have decided not to extend but still are open for business, commercial broker Karen Setterfield said.

The retail space of Stefan Kaelin, 516 E. Durant Ave., is closing for good. The building's landlord, Stephen Marcus, said letting the Kaelins out of the lease was mutual. It will remain empty until a broker can find a suitable tenant, Marcus said.

"In the old days, I would have rented that six months" before they left, he said, adding the Stefan Kaelin space is the only one out of 24 that he controls that's vacant.

"All of my tenants are in place," he said.

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