Mom-and-pop businesses in the Mill Street Commercial Center, one of Aspen’s last bastions of locally-owned shops, feared that with a new buyer and plans for a new developer, new, higher rents would drive them out.
But buyer John Provine says they’ll stay in place, at least for now.
“We like the mom-and-pop businesses,” Provine tells the Aspen Times. To the Aspen Daily News he says: “We do want all of our tenants back. I’m over 60, I was semi-retired, and I’m not looking for a fight.”
Businesses feared the worst when they heard of Provine’s plans to convert the center, with a bike shop, a video store and Aspen’s last coin-op laundry, into a multi-use structure with luxury condos on top, affordable housing in the middle and retail on the bottom.
They expected rents to soar, a common Aspen tale of redevelopment. But Provine pledged the rents will stay the same, for at least two years. Some of those tenants have already filed two-year lease extensions.
And after two years, or three, or four? Then what? Provine says redevelopment is on the way, but he’d like to see mom-and-pops remain in the center, which sits in the not-so-fashionable end of town, a long hike in ski boots from the slopes or the downtown.
“I’m not going to put Gucci in down there, he tells the Times. “Gucci wouldn’t go down there.”