Ace Lane’s Tree Farm project in El Jebel clears final legal hurdle
Colorado Supreme Court declines to consider legal challenge
The Colorado Supreme Court declined Monday to consider a midvalley citizen group’s request to review its lawsuit over Eagle County government’s approval of the Tree Farm project in El Jebel.
Save Mid Valley founder and midvalley resident Ken Ransford wanted the September 2017 approval of the project revoked on several grounds. They lost a decision at the district court level in 2019 and by the Colorado Court of Appeals in 2020.
The Supreme Court justices said they reviewed the record, briefs and judgment of the Court of Appeals and declined to take up the matter.
“We have nowhere else to turn. The courts have approved Eagle County’s approval of the Tree Farm,” Ransford said via email.
Eagle County attorney Bryan Treu said county officials are “happy to finally put this matter behind us.”
“It is unfortunate the parties had to spend several years litigating this dispute just to arrive at the original result, but the county remains confident that the community can now put this matter behind them and work together to make this development a success,” Treu said in a statement.
The commissioners in office in 2017 voted 2-1 to approve 340 residences and up to 135,000 square feet of commercial on Ace Lane’s property across Highway 82 from Whole Foods. The bulk of the development is located between the highway and Kodiak Lake, Lane’s water ski facility.
Work continued on infrastructure for the project during the legal battle. Now that it is concluded, construction can commence on structures.
Dave Marrs, chief financial officer of Geronimo Ventures LLC, a part of Lane’s team, said the remaining infrastructure and all landscaping will be concluded in 2021.
“Vertical construction will commence in earnest on the majority of the project — 17 of the 20 lots as it looks today,” he said in an email. He stressed that the timing of construction of specific lots is still to be determined.
The first phase features four lots on the west end of the lake that will be split between residential and commercial uses, such as offices and restaurants.
Further to the west, off the lake, are three lots. One will be commercial on the first floor with condominiums on the upper floor. Two other buildings on the far west of the property will be condos.
The second phase will feature 11 lots, all of which are under contract and scheduled to seek grading permits this spring and building permits in summer, Marrs said.
Those lots include a hotel on two lots east of the intersection of Highway 82 and Willits Lane — at the entrance to the project. The site is under contract for construction of a 122-room hotel in the Tapestry Collection by Hilton, according to Marrs. They are aiming for an opening date of November 2022, he said.
Four lots east of the hotel site are under contract for construction of independent living facility, according to Marrs. And east of that are lots devoted to apartments and light commercial uses.
The project includes 40 price-capped rental units and 10 price-capped for sale units. Eagle County and the developer also worked out an experimental plan that could result in additional affordable housing.
The proposal requires the developer to offer 150 units for sale to Roaring Fork Valley residents, with no price caps. They will be offered exclusively to local residents, in phases, for 60 days after they are built. After that, they can be sold to anyone.
It remains unclear how Eagle County will ensure those units are aggressively marketed to Roaring Fork Valley residents.
Marrs said Eagle County is also reviewing a proposal to dedicate a parcel to the Roaring Fork School District for development of up to 23 units of teacher housing.
The chief operating officer of RH recently said the retailer’s presence will invigorate downtown Aspen by day and wake it up at night, but they’ll need some help from the Aspen Historic Preservation Commission.
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