By Rick Carroll, February 23, 2008, Aspen Times

ASPEN — Aspen attorneys Ron Garfield and Andrew Hecht added another downtown property to their real estate portfolio Friday, paying $14.6 million for the La Fave Block building at the corner of Cooper Avenue and Hunter Street.

The acquisition of the historic property, which had been owned by the Stein Eriksen Family Partnership, was recorded just before 4 p.m. Friday at the Pitkin County Clerk & Recorder’s Office.

The two-building complex is located at one of downtown Aspen’s busier intersections, just around the block from the gondola plaza and across the street from Boogie’s Diner. It spans more than 5,000 square feet, and houses such retailers as Lush, the Joan Boyce jewelry store, Aspen Jewelers, Boogie’s Bags & Belts and the Optica eyewear shop. The Setterfield & Bright real estate office also is there, as well as several upstairs apartments.

Karen Setterfield, a name partner in the real estate firm, said she had just learned of the deal Thursday. She said her lease appears secure for the time being because it’s long term. Neither Garfield nor Hecht could be reached for comment after business hours Friday.

Built in 1888, the La Fave Block building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Directory of Colorado State Register Properties. It originally was the home of the St. James Restaurant.

The deal marks the latest in the long-running series of property purchases by Garfield and Hecht, who have been involved in such recent acquisitions as the North Mill Street Commercial Center, the Red Onion building, and Cooper Street Pier, among others.

If their recent history is any indication, they’ll probably want to redevelop the La Fave Block building, though they’ll likely have to clear a few government hurdles because of the structure’s historic designations.

Garfield and Hecht are among several investors who bought the Cooper Street Pier building for $6.55 million in 2006. They are suing the city of Aspen, claiming it wrongfully denied their application to subdivide the building as part of a redevelopment plan; it currently houses a bar and restaurant. The suit is pending.

Last year they closed down the Red Onion restaurant, one of Aspen’s oldest businesses, so they could redevelop the Cooper Avenue spot to a attract high-end tenant, which has yet to be made public.

Likewise, Garfield and Hecht, as well as Hecht’s son, Nikos, were among the seven LLCs that bought the 20,000-square-foot Mill Street Commercial Center last June for $13.3 million. They have yet to roll out their plans for that building, which is zoned Service/Commercial/Industrial and comprises such tenants as a coin-operated laundry, a video store and a second-hand sporting goods shop. However, it’s widely held they want to raze the building and replace it with another one, similar to the nearby Obermeyer Place off Rio Grande Place.

Public records identify the buyers of the La Fave Block building by their formal names: Perryton Holdings LLC, RG Cooper Street LLC, Stein Holdings and Opal Holdings.

Public records don’t show the length of time the seller, the Stein Eriksen Family Partnership, owned the building. The Stein Eriksen name, however, is a household one in skier circles.

Eriksen reportedly came here in 1958 to run the ski school at Aspen Highlands. He went on to run the ski school in Snowmass. Eriksen, who turned 80 in December, claimed the 1952 Winter Olympics gold medal for his efforts in the giant slalom. He also is credited for being a pioneer in the arena of freestyle skiing.

A ski lodge in Deer Valley, Utah, bears his name, and recently achieved a five-star ranking, the first of its kind in the Beehive State.