Future of Aspen McDonald’s building uncertain
With McDonald’s done serving Big Macs and flapjacks to customers in Aspen, the fast-food chain has indicated it doesn’t plan to hold on to its downtown real estate.
Developer Mark Hunt, who has invested more than $100 million in downtown Aspen commercial property, said Monday the McDonald’s space doesn’t interest him.
“It’s kind of a quirky location,” he said. “It was kind of a good use. Whether you like McDonald’s or not, it was right by the bus stop for a quick grab-and-go. It made sense.”
The property is located on the outskirts of some of downtown’s most vibrant areas — the Hyman and Cooper avenue pedestrian malls — and sits at the edge of the Mill Street mall.
“There’s no synergy there,” said broker Bob Langley. “It’s out there on the end (of South Mill Street), and it’s next to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory on the corner. But they’re not drawing a lot of people.
“Could you put a luxury tenant there? I don’t think so. I think probably something more like New York Pizza.”
Even so, the property will draw interest from prospective buyers and tenants, said Langley and Karen Setterfield, another commercial broker.
“I think food is the most likely thing there,” Setterfield said. “Let’s say a T-shirt shop went there. It’s not very visible unless you’re coming from Rubey Park or the ice rink (on East Durant Avenue). Most people who walk up the Mill Street mall (toward Aspen Mountain), they’re not going to Rubey Park. They’re taking a left on Cooper. McDonald’s was a destination. And I think it will be another destination business, which would be food.”
High-end retail shops are peppered throughout downtown, but the McDonald’s building offers little opportunity for luxury stores because of its location, Langley said. Potential buyers will certainly show interest, but Langley said it might be a tough sell.
“There are a lot of people that are going to raise their hands,” Langley said. “But when they get the information and process it, depending on what McDonald’s wants, they might not want it. You may find the bigger fool out there, and this is a great opportunity to be the bigger fool. To me, it’s not a great retail location.”
The building’s next owner will have no choice but to remodel it, Setterfield said. The city has gotten tougher in its enforcement of Americans With Disability Act rules, meaning the building could require an elevator if it were used for a restaurant or retail, she noted.
“If you put in an ADA elevator and bathroom, you take up such a big chunk of space that the space almost becomes unusable,” Setterfield said.
The building is broken up into four units — a 938-square-foot basement, 1,553 square feet on the ground level, and separate units of 1,001 and 602 square feet on the second floor, property records show. The Pitkin County Assessor’s Office gives the entire property, located at 408 S. Mill St., an actual value of $3.68 million.
McDonald’s Corp. bought the building for $750,000 in 1983. “McDonald’s Corp. will market their assets in this building for sale in the future,” the company’s Colorado spokeswoman, Debbie Fitzgerald, said in a statement last week.
Fitzgerald, in an email Tuesday, said she doesn’t know when McDonald’s will market the property for sale or how it will go about doing it.
The Illinois-based company, which is publicly traded, has numerous real estate holdings in the U.S.
“McDonald’s is one of the biggest real estate companies in the world,” nrn.com (Nation’s Restaurant News) reported in February 2015. “It owns $28.4 billion worth of land and buildings, before depreciation. It also leases the land, the buildings or both on 15,000 of its restaurant sites. In most cases, the company controls the real estate regardless of how the site or the building is obtained. It then leases those sites to the franchisees, often at a big markup.”
The chain closed its Aspen shop at the end of the business day Thursday. Glenwood Springs resident Paul Nelson most recently owned the Aspen franchise, which opened July 10, 1985. The McDonald’s company made the call to close the restaurant, it said in a statement.
“McDonald’s has made the decision to close some under-performing restaurants. As it relates to the Rocky Mountain region, the McDonald’s restaurant located in Aspen is a part of this plan. We’ve been proud to serve the customers in the Aspen community for the past 31 years.”
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