After tearful pleas, Aspen OKs plan to sell Silver Lining Ranch site
July 14, 2010
ASPEN – The Aspen City Council approved an application by the owner of Silver Lining Ranch, an organization once located just east of town that provided a retreat for terminally ill children, to convert the property into a single-family home and sell it Monday night.
The approval came after numerous residents and property owner Andrea Jaeger pleaded for the approval for nearly two hours.
Jaeger, a former professional tennis player, is trying to sell the land because she says it is too expensive to operate her nonprofit Silver Lining Foundation on the site.
The property buyer will allow the nonprofit to continue operating in its current capacity for five years at no cost. After that, the property will attain single-family status.
Mayor Mick Ireland expressed concern about the proposal last month at a council hearing. It could appear that Jaeger is trying to skirt property tax rules because the foundation would essentially be using the space free of charge, he said.
But Mitch Haas, the developer who is helping Jaeger sell the property, assured the council that the only reason to sell the land is because it was a regrettably unsustainable business model.
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About 10 community members attended the hearing to support the sale. Former Aspen Mayor Helen Klanderud told council that it was the best option for the nonprofit.
Councilman Torre said the property should be opened for other charitable organizations as a commitment to continuing the community benefit of the facility. But Haas said the building stopped serving the community when Jaeger moved her operation to Hesperus, Colo., several years ago.
“Benefits were lost when the foundation moved to southern Colorado,” he said.
Jaeger’s attorney, Rick Neily, agreed.
“It’s been empty for four years,” he said.
Proponents of the sale said it would allow the plot to become viable in the five-year interim instead of staying empty.
The land has been tied up in litigation over an attempted sale to a Jewish nonprofit last year after a local homeowner’s association said the sale would violate its use covenants, which say the property can only be used for a single family or sick children. It was a gift to Jaeger in the 1990s by late Aspen philanthropist Fabi Benedict.
Jaeger choked up as she asked the council to approve the proposal Monday night.