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Gas Tycoon Doubles Down on Downtown Aspen Properties

Charif Souki, the Lebanese-American energy entrepreneur who won big this year when his company became the first to be licensed to export natural gas from the US, has celebrated by gobbling up some key downtown Aspen properties this winter. Souki has a long history in town, having opened Mezzaluna, one of the select few Aspen restaurants with real staying powder and a top-three-in-town claim by Gourmet Magazine, in 1987. He also has a few grown kids in the valley. Nonetheless, his November grab of the former Pomeroy Sports building at the corner of Durant and Hunter for $7.5 million and the purchase of both the Mason Morse building on Hyman Avenue for $6.3 million and the Coldwell Banker Mason Morse realtor itself mean the Souki family is going to be a fixture in downtown Aspen for awhile to come.

Souki's downtown sweep was actually on the quieter end of a competitive December buy-off that saw the Bidwell building at the corner of Galena and Cooper go to Chicago business Mark Hunt for $27,000,000 and the Volk Plaza where Paradise Bakery now sits roll off the listings for $18.7 million. Still, the buy give Souki 4,500 square feet of prime commercial real estate at the Pomeroy location that has already generated intense interest from potential renters thanks to its stellar location across the street from the Aspen Mountain gondola plaza and the Little Nell hotel, where the Paris Hiltons of the world doth stay and mount shopping sprees from.

The Mason Morse building adds nearly another 6,000 feet of square footage to Souki's downtown stock, and the separate agreement for the realtor itself, part of a long-term retirement strategy for the owner, means they also take control of one of the longest-standing purveyors of luxury real estate in a zip code that tends to do little but appreciate. Mason Morse pulled in $360 million over the course of 500 sales in 2012.

· Flurry of commercial sales on tap for year's end [Aspen Business Journal]
· Mason Morse building closes for $6.3 million [Aspen Business Journal]