Liquor Mart property in Boulder sells for $9M

BOULDER — Prominent Boulder development firm W.W. Reynolds Cos. has purchased the Liquor Mart property in downtown for $9 million. But the owners of the Boulder mainstay say their sale of the real estate doesn’t mean the store is going anywhere.

Former University of Colorado athletic director Dick Tharp — who co-owns the store with Bob Charles and the Humphrey family — said Friday that Liquor Mart has inked a “long-term” lease for the property at 1750 15th St., and will continue to operate the 32,000-square-foot store.

“It’s all good for Liquor Mart,” Tharp said. “We’re not going anywhere.”

The 1.7-acre property occupies a prominent spot at the southeast corner of 15th Street and Canyon Boulevard, providing some obvious redevelopment potential. The site is located within the broader boundaries of the city of Boulder’s Civic Area Master Plan — a vision aimed at creating a variety of public and private uses in the city’s center.

W.W. Reynolds Cos. partner Jeff Wingert said that the company will start “scratching the surface” on looking into what type of development the property can accommodate, but said there’s nothing on the immediate horizon given the longterm lease.

“Right now we just look at it as a really good piece of real estate in downtown Boulder,” Wingert said.

The liquor store’s current ownership group has owned the business since 1982, but Liquor Mart has been somewhat of a Boulder institution for nearly 50 years.

CU grad Tom Lacey opened the store at 1712 Pearl St. in 1968, when the city began granting retail liquor licenses. Lacey moved it to its current location in 1973 and owned the store until his death in 1981.

The business was the largest liquor store in town until 2012, when a group of local investors opened the 35,000-square-foot Hazel’s Beverage World at 1955 28th St. Liquor Mart has had to weather the storm of increased competition from Hazel’s in recent years.

“It definitely has had a pretty large impact on us,” Cardene Otsuka, a general manager at Liquor Mart, said. “Obviously, we’re still here and going strong. It’s taken us a few years to regain and reassess what our place in the market is, and this last year, we’ve made some pretty positive strides and are growing again.”