Getting The Best Commercial Lease

Posted by Ruth Kruger on December 15, 2023

When considering a commercial real estate lease for a retail store in Aspen, Colorado, several key factors should be carefully examined to ensure a favorable and sustainable business environment:


One of the most important factors to consider is location. The prime location is crucial for retail success. Ensure that the property is situated in a high-traffic area, ideally near popular shopping districts or tourist attractions in town. One thing that is not as important in all towns as it is in Aspen is if the location is on the sunny side of the street. Being on the sunny side not only makes it easier to keep your storefront free of snow but people tend to walk on the warmer side of the street in winter months. Another thing to look at for location is storefronts on the “walking malls”, Aspen has several blocks in the core of town that are free of cars creating a gathering space where people tend to spend more time and move more slowly with the lack of traffic. The walking malls are also adjacent to the largest park in town, Wagner Park, which hosts many of the largest events in town and thus provide significant traffic flow to and from the area. These malls are prime locations in town for a retail business.

Lease Terms

Aspen bar and restaurant interiorAnother important factor in your lease is the terms. To determine the length of the lease term you will need to consider many factors including the prospect of the business in terms of longevity. Longer terms can provide stability, but flexibility is essential, especially for new businesses. Negotiating favorable renewal options to secure your presence in the desirable location without committing to an extended lease may be the best option for many retail stores.


Rent structure consists of several items and these points are critical to the success of your business. Understand the rent structure, including base rent, common area maintenance (CAM) charges, and any additional fees. Clarify how rent increases will be calculated and when they will occur. Also be sure to have it clarified who maintains the property and who covers any structural maintenance or work that may need to be done from water damage etc.

The Property

Make sure the property is in good and functional condition: Inspect the property’s condition and negotiate any necessary improvements or repairs with the landlord before signing the lease. Ensure that the space is suitable for your retail needs.


Do your homework to make sure there are no use restrictions that could conflict with your business. Review any use restrictions in the lease to ensure they align with your retail business plans. Some properties may have zoning or usage restrictions that could limit your operations.


Downtown Aspen lease locationLeasehold improvements need to be detailed clearly as any ambiguity can lead to conflict and possible substantial costs for the tenant. Discuss who will be responsible for leasehold improvements and how costs will be shared between you and the landlord. Clarify ownership and maintenance responsibilities in detail in your Aspen commercial real estate lease.


In our small mountain town parking and accessibility are possibly more important than in other locations.  Evaluate the availability of parking for customers and the accessibility of the location. Ease of access can significantly impact foot traffic. You should also see if it is possible to negotiate parking for the owners and any staff as employee parking is also a factor in Aspen.


Lease termination needs to be clear in case you need to make changes with your business. Understand the terms and conditions for lease termination, including penalties, notice periods, and exit strategies. Ensure that you have options in case your business needs change.

Competition and Conflicts

Are there competing businesses that could cause conflict or impact sales? Check if there are any exclusivity clauses in the lease that prevent competing businesses from operating nearby.


None of us love to discuss it but in today’s hi-dollar market legal counsel is always a good idea. Consider consulting with a commercial real estate attorney or advisor to review the lease agreement and negotiate terms on your behalf, ensuring that your interests are protected.


Are there subleasing and assignment options? Understand the rules and restrictions regarding subleasing or assigning the lease if you decide to sell the business or sublet a portion of the space.


Lease renewal options should be detailed in the lease as the pace of change in the Aspen commercial real estate market is faster than many locations across the country. Negotiate favorable lease renewal options to provide continuity and stability for your retail store in Aspen.


Thoroughly reviewing and understanding these key aspects of a commercial real estate lease is essential for making informed decisions and securing the right location for your retail business in Aspen, Colorado.

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