Aspen City Council debated a lease extension for a local art gallery that rents city space on Monday.
The conversation got heated.
City council member Bert Myrin suggested at the meeting that the city reduce a lease extension for Valley Fine Arts from five years to two. The owner of this local art gallery rents from city owned space in the Wheeler Opera House building. This was Mayor Steve Skadron's response to Myrin's suggestion:
“...I’m sorry to show up at a public meeting and drop this atom bomb on a locally serving business," said Mayor Skadron. "I think [it] is ruthless and wrong, and it should have been discussed prior to this meeting,” said Skadron.
“And Mia, I’m sorry if this has given you heart palpitations," he added. "I would be furious if I were you right now."
Gallery owner Mia Valley signed a five-year lease with the city in 2011, which could be extended for an additional five years at the tenant’s option. The council approved the extension December 2016. Myrin said the council should explore using this as an incubator space for other local businesses in the future.
“The conversation probably needs to start in two years or so. If it takes a couple years to get something secured, so that when the lease comes up in 2021 there's a fair process the community feels for allocating that community resource,” he said.
Valley has been renting the space since 2006. Myrin said it’s unfair for Valley to pay $88 a square foot when a space across the street commands $150 per square foot on the free market.