ASPEN—The Mason Morse building at 514 East Hyman sold for $6.3 million on Tuesday, marking the sixth commercial building sale in downtown Aspen in two months.
Mason Morse, Inc.—also the ownership entity of local real estate company Coldwell Banker Mason Morse—sold its office building to 514 AH LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ajax Holdings, LLC, according to public records and a press release.
Ajax Holdings is an investment group put together by energy executive Charif Souki and his family. Souki, through a different investment group, purchased the Pomeroy Sports building at the corner of Durant and Hunter at the end of November for $7.5 million.
The sale of Coldwell Banker Mason Morse (the business) to Ajax Holdings is “on track and in the due diligence period,” according to a press release issued by the two companies.
Selling both the building and the business is part of a long-term transition plan for Mason Morse, company President Will Herndon told Aspen Business Journal last month. Longtime owner Bob Starodoj, a Mason Morse broker since 1967, is gradually heading toward retirement, so the company has been working on a succession plan for a while.
Part of that plan was acquiring the local Coldwell Banker franchise in 2011, in an effort to increase Mason Morse’s national and international visibility. The company also recently started doing luxury vacation rental and selling Hyatt Grand Aspen fractional residences. Property management will be added to the range of services with Ajax Holdings’ acquisition.
The Souki family is looking to make more investments in Aspen’s commercial core beyond Mason Morse and the Pomeroy building, according to Brooke Peterson, manager of Ajax Holdings who is also a longtime local attorney.
“We’re very excited about these opportunities and the platform we’re creating,” Peterson said in December. “These are long-term commitments; Ajax Holdings is going to be around for a long time.”
With the transition of the business, Peterson will take over as CEO of Mason Morse from Starodoj, who will stay on as a broker associate and advisor.
Prior to Tuesday’s sale, Mason Morse had owned its building since 1979. It won approvals last year from the city to add a third-floor penthouse and do a historic renovation, which adds value for a potential buyer.
Mason Morse was originally asking for $7.2 million for the nearly 6,000-square-foot building, which currently includes three floors of office space (including the basement). The $6.3 million sale price equates to about $1,070 per square foot. Public records also show that 514 AH LLC has a $3.5 million loan on the property.
Several Aspen commercial buildings changed hands at the end of 2012, helping to fuel the highest dollar volume of real estate sales in Pitkin County since prior to the recession. These include the aforementioned Pomeroy building, the Mountain Plaza (Bidwell) Building for $22 million, the Volk Plaza (Paradise Bakery) Building for $17.25 million, the Ellie’s (American National Bank) building for $12 million, and Amelia’s Building on the Hyman Avenue Mall for $3,225,600.
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