Flurry of activity in Basalt as historic downtown buildings go on the market
May 17, 2017
BASALT — The day that diners have dreaded has come in Basalt.
Two Rivers Cafe, both the building and the famed bar and restaurant, went on the market Thursday. They are being marketed and sold separately. The restaurant remains open under the current owners.
"The hope is that whoever comes in would want to continue (operating the cafe)," said Bennett Bramson, who has the property listing. Charlie Spickert has the listing on the business.
The property includes the cafe space, the adjacent Midland Shoe space and a residence and garage space in the rear of the building. The asking price is $2.9 million. Bramson said there is the potential to add residences in the back of the property.
August will mark 38 years in business for cafe owners Rick Kane and Pet Breed. The cafe is a hotspot for breakfast, popular for lunch and gracious with its space for fundraisers and other community events.
Bramson said the longtime partners aren't in a rush to sell. After nearly 40 years of hard work, they decided to put the business and property on the market.
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The Two Rivers building at 150-156 Midland Ave. is one of three high-profile properties on Basalt's main street that hit the market this spring.
The Kelly Building, owned by the Darien family for decades, was listed May 2.
"Historic prime time commercial and residential property on Midland Avenue being offered for sale for the first time in over 70 years," says the promotional material on the Aspen Snowmass Sotheby's International website.
The distinguished brick structure has been a fixture on Midland Avenue since 1900. The original Kelly building burned down in 1899, according to a plaque placed beside the building as part of the Basalt Regional Heritage Walking Tour. E.B. Kelly rebuilt the structure using brick and a stone foundation. They operated a saloon in the ground floor and a boarding house for railroad men on the upper story.
Ben and Margaret Darien purchased the building in the mid-1940s and operated a general store and grocery while they lived upstairs. The downstairs was leased to the U.S. Postal Service for more than 20 years and is now leased by Heirlooms.
The property at 0144 Midland Ave. has three components — the 2,464-square-foot commercial space on the ground floor that is rented to Heirlooms, a second-story residence of the same size and nearly 3,000 square feet of vacant land with development potential. It's listed for $2.96 million.
Just a hop and a skip down the street, the building that houses the Brick Pony bar and restaurant went on the market April 8. Owner Joe Ciri told the Aspen Daily News this week the building was under contract to be sold to Klaus Obermeyer Jr. for an undisclosed amount. It was listed for $2.1 million.
The property remains on the market via the Aspen Multiple Listing Service in case the contract falls through.
The popular Brick Pony restaurant is in the first year of a new five-year lease, according to the Sotheby's website. The upstairs is a luxury condo.
The Cafe Bernard Space, adjacent to the Brick Pony on Midland Avenue, was previously on the market for $585,000 for the ground-floor space.
Bramson said it's just a coincidence that all the properties have hit the market at the same time.
"Each of these owners has their own motivation for selling," he said.
Basalt's commercial real estate market is heating up after trouble shaking off the Great Recession, so that may be spurring some owners to place property on the market.
The vacancy rate is only about 4 percent downtown and there were a handful of sales in 2016 that primed the pump.
"You've had so much going on in Basalt," Bramson said, referring to a flurry of recent sales of commercial spaces downtown.
Aspen Skiing Co. bought a building at Riverside Plaza in 2015 for $6 million. A company affiliated with the Romero Group property management purchased 208 Midland Ave., once the home of Midland Clothing, for $750,000 in February 2016.
The Crystal River Oil and Gas building at 110 Midland Ave. sold for $1.32 million in November.
In addition, the Saxy's Cafe space in the Snell Building sold for $390,000 on April 11, according to Bramson. The space is about 950 square feet.
The influx in commercial inventory has caught the eye of prospective buyers, according to Bramson.
"I've been talking to four different investors," he said.