Carbondale’s Weant House waiting for ‘the right hands’
A prime Carbondale property has sat empty for a few years now, and views differ on what its best future would look like.
The “Historic Weant House” at 689 Main St. is on an important corner parcel at the gateway to downtown, said Lynn Kirchner, owner of Amore Realty.
Constructed in 1913, the building has two of the town’s largest trees in its front yard and a main town irrigation ditch flowing on its western edge. The building’s architecture is of the late 19th century and early 20th century Victorian style.
It’s one of the only buildings on Main Street with a good view of Mount Sopris, noted Rocky Whitworth, the owner’s real estate broker at Mason Morse.
The biggest expansions on the building came when it was first turned into a restaurant. Side expansions now holding dining space and wine coolers on the west side, a bar area to the east and the kitchen at the rear of the building were built at that time.
Upstairs are four small bedrooms.
The property stretches into an open lot behind in the house, leaving plenty of room to expand, possibly for a complex of upstairs condos and downstairs retail, owner Emma Danciger suggests.
Danciger renamed the building the “Weant House” to identify it with the Weant family that built it.
When the historical society was surveying Carbondale’s downtown in 2006, Danciger learned a great deal about the building’s history. During that survey the building didn’t qualify for historical designation, largely due to the extensive expansions and alterations over the years.
Still, the Dancigers, owners of the Tybar Ranch, fell in love with the house’s historic presence, and Emma’s goal was to keep it as one of the last remaining Victorian houses in Carbondale.
Danciger said she wishes Carbondale could have “at least one place with the ambiance of the old town.”
“I feel it still has a significant contribution to make historically and commercially,” she said.
The building changed hands numerous times before the Dancigers purchased it in 1996.
At one point it was the home and office of a “Dr. Tubbs,” who may have been the town’s first physician.
Among the most notable owners were Paul and Ginny Lappala, whom most people will remember for being heavily involved in the community, said Danciger.
It’s unclear exactly when the Lappalas bought the property, but they purchased it from the Evans family, who themselves bought it in 1956. The Lappalas owned the property until 1988.
The Lappalas were well-known for their interest in the arts and crafts, said Danciger.
Ginny was a prominent weaver, and Paul was known as an emphatic conservationist, playing a major role in developing the Spring Gulch Ski Area, she said.
The couple were also very interested in helping others get a good start, which turned into them helping the man who would first convert the building into a restaurant, the Landmark.
“We were very eager to see the property be used,” said Danciger. “With its history as a restaurant, we then encouraged Mark Fischer to develop Six89 and become an integral part of the community again.”
The restaurant Six89, which had a 14-year run at the Weant House, was one of Carbondale’s great meeting places, said Whitworth.
The building, however, hasn’t housed a permanent operation since Six89 moved out in 2012. Fischer would eventually open Town and Phat Thai in Carbondale, and The Pullman in Glenwood Springs.
While the building hasn’t had a full-time business or resident since Six89 left, Danciger said she’s kept the place active with frequent community events like fundraisers, political gatherings and art shows.
Only a few weeks ago the building was listed at nearly $2 million. Now the price has come down a bit — to reflect the economic times, said Danciger — to just under $1.7 million.
That is equal to market value of what can be done here; it’s not just the simple purchase of the house, said Whitworth.
So far the right buyer hasn’t come along, “and I haven’t been too anxious to sell it,” said Danciger.
The right buyer, she says, will be someone with the grand view of the property’s possibilities.
“It’s been a great property with a lot of interest from prospective buyers,” said Whitworth. “We hope to get it fully engaged in Carbondale again soon.”
The property’s zoning allows for a multitude of uses, just about any commercial and/or residential purpose, Whitworth said. “The town is looking forward to this property’s rebirth.”
Kirchner, however, has a less nostalgic view on what should happen with the property.
“I’m all about affordable housing. The highest and best use would be to put an apartment complex there, something that could help the community out.”
A developer wants the best return on investment, she said. “The building would take a lot of money, and that’s not the restaurant business.”
The building has been for sale for about seven years, said Kirchner, who called $1.69 million a pipe dream price.
The real value of this property is the land, she said, while the building has zero value in its current condition — unless you’re a history buff and are willing to pay for a major project.
Kirchner has some experience in this realm, as she remodeled a Victorian home just across the street. “I know what I spent on my building, and costs have gone up tremendously in the past several years.”
She also didn’t think the Weant would do well as a restaurant anymore. “The kitchen would have to be gutted and redone, and the rooms are choppy.”
Kirchner had high praise for Six89, calling it a unique and creative gift. But when the restaurant left, it was the end of an era, and it’s doubtful the place will regain that sparkle, she said.
Fischer was at his finest with the perfect ambiance and the perfect menu, but you would be hard pressed to recreate that because of the demands of the building code and logistics, said Kirchner.
“We could use a really nice multifamily housing complex in the heart of Carbondale. It’s on a great corner across from the park and the pool. I think it has a bright future in the right hands.
“People need to be prepared for someone to buy that property and then say the whole things needs to go away,” said Kirchner.
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