Jazz Aspen Snowmass (JAS) announced today that they are under contract to purchase the Wheeler Square Building in Aspen’s core, (directly across from the Wheeler Opera House) to establish a permanent home for its rapidly growing JAS Café performance and JAS In-School music education programs, as well as offering a home for special events and other Not for Profit organization usage. The new multi-use space will combine the current Billiards Room, Cigar Bar & Eric’s Bar into an expanded JAS Café and Learning Center, with a seating capacity of up to 175 persons. JAS is in discussions with potential partners for reimagining both Su Casa and the former HUB space.

“Establishing a permanent home for JAS in Aspen’s core has been a dream for years and more recently, a central objective of our Strategic Plan,” stated JAS President/CEO, Jim Horowitz. “Additionally, this reimagined space will add a unique civic asset to Aspen’s core, with its intimate spaces and location across from the famed Wheeler Opera House. The addition of the JAS Center would create a mini Arts & Education district on Hyman Avenue, anchored by the Aspen Art Museum on one end and the Wheeler/JAS Center on the other.”

“The need to increase vitality in Aspen and the Core has been a drumbeat from the community for years, as commercial spaces have often converted to higher rent retail usage, and new vacancies,” continues Horowitz. “The JAS Center is a one of a kind opportunity to create a lasting, versatile hub of activity that will only further burnish Aspen’s reputation for the variety and quality of its off-mountain activities and its unparalleled reputation for world-class Arts.”

JAS envisions the extensive use of the facility for its multiple purposes. “A game changer for our Music Education programs,” states Horowitz, “JAS will be able for the first time to offer students and teachers a consistent year-round space for rehearsal, practice, and study, in the same room where world-class Artists and Grammy winners perform annually.” JAS has donated over $7 Million to its music education programs since 1996.

JAS will expand the number of performances during the JAS Café winter/summer seasons with the addition of more weekend nights and holidays, and incorporate flexibility for artists’ schedules, which JAS currently lacks without a permanent home. During the Fall and Spring, JAS envisions the space being used for music education programming.  Due to its flexible seating configuration and permanent stage, sound and lights, JAS would also extend the use of the Center to other Not for Profit Organizations for collaborations or their own use.  JAS intends to maintain and expand upon the historic usage of the current Eric’s space as a gathering place for young adults with thematic soundtracks and DJ’s.

The property purchase and its renovation are projected to cost $15 Million. JAS is initiating the “Keep the Music Playing” campaign immediately, with the hope of ultimately securing the $15 Million and an additional $10 Million to establish a JAS Endowment for a total target Capital Campaign goal of $25 Million over five years. With a closing date at the end of May, JAS must secure significant pledges towards their goal over the next 60 days to move forward with the building purchase. “This space is so uniquely suited as a JAS and community asset in a great location, and we felt we had to take advantage by bringing the project to our constituents and the community at large. Although we are working on a short time frame, we couldn’t let the opportunity pass by.”

During the due diligence period, should all the necessary inspections come back favorably and JAS is granted approval permits for its design and usage from the City of Aspen Planning Department; plus, secure the pledges needed to move forward with the purchase, the JAS Center would be projected to open to the public in late 2019.

See the full case for support here.