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City of Aspen Signs Contract to Purchase 517 E. Hopkins for Office Space
Aspen’s city manager Steve Barwick has signed a real estate contract to purchase the building at 517 E. Hopkins (the old Aspen Daily News Building) for $23 million from Aspen area developer Mark Hunt. The purchase price includes the complete rebuild of the building. The purchase is an effort to accommodate the need for additional City office space, while avoiding new building development and construction. The deal is contingent on City Council approval on Monday, July 2 and a 45-day due diligence period. The City can end the contract with no financial ramifications up until the end of the 45-day due diligence period.The real estate contract includes the office spaces in the basement and first and second floors. The sale does not include three street facing retail spaces. Approximate square footage included in the contract is 21,400 square feet.The purchase of this building is a proactive effort to secure office space that is less subject to fluctuations in ground-up construction costs while offering a quicker time frame for occupancy. Utilizing 517 E. Hopkins for offices also relieves the City of its current rental expenses for office space in various properties around town and allows for more consolidated operations for staff and customers.Pending approval from City Council the contract includes these stipulations:• The City will pay impact fees associated with the redevelopment.• The City will be responsible for all affordable housing mitigation requirements.• The seller will execute the interior finish with the seller contributing $100 per square foot for that work.• The City is providing $2.5 million in earnest money that is fully refundable if the contract is severed during the due diligence period.The redevelopment at 517 E. Hopkins already has a site-specific approval from the City of Aspen, which means the shape and style of the building, mass and scale and building materials have been approved. The interior will be retrofitted from the original plan to meet the needs of the City. Contrary to some media reports, the building is not contingent upon an underground tunnel or changes to Connor Park. The Armory building that now serves as City Hall will remain the hub of Aspen’s government and is scheduled to undergo a renovation after 2020. The City will also continue using offices in the Old Powerhouse and the Rio Grande building.During its meeting on July 2, City Council will discuss funding measures for the purchase of the building, which may include a combination of cash and either a lease purchase or an interfund loan. The contract to purchase this building does not mean that the City is retiring all other options for future office space, but rather expands opportunities.