4. Pat Smith
December 25, 2006
Capitalism found its home in Snowmass Village this year, and Pat Smith is its master. Not everyone in the Brush Creek Valley knows Smith or even his name, but he was able to buy his way into a near-monopoly of commercial space in the town during 2006.Smith is unassuming and media-shy. Despite a long history of funding real estate development, this is the first time Smith has been in the news so much and the first time he’s had to cope with so many interview requests. He frequently addresses the Snowmass Town Council as the leader of a number of investment groups, and subtly pushes for rapid approval of the Snowmass mall and Snowmass Center redevelopments.What it means for Snowmass Village to have a monopoly landowner in town is an open question. It has spurred worries that rents will rise, locals will get kicked out, and a Gucci paradise will rise.What is not in question is that Smith is now a major player in town politics and business. When town residents were hit with the possibility of losing their only gas station, Smith’s group made the offer to subsidize it. Of course, all money comes with strings attached, and the offer required speedy approval of a major project. Regardless, both town and citizens view Smith’s group as the deep-pocketed developers who will revitalize town.
WestPac, in which Smith is one of six principal investors, has more than a billion dollars worth of projects and 3,400 employees in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Hawaii, the Caribbean and Australia.Smith gets good marks from mayors in the cities where he has worked, and he seems, despite skepticism in the local press and the community, to be a “good developer.” Smith is aware of the concerns and said he doesn’t want to lose local tenants to high rents. The Aspen Skiing Co. has voiced support for Smith as a business partner.Still, now that Smith has signed with a large New York investment firm, Related Companies, it’s unclear if he is still in charge or if there is a new boss in town. For the moment, Smith is Snowmass’ developer extraordinaire, but that could change as fast as the Colorado weather.