Amid $100 million lawsuit, buyer says he’ll close Lodge at Cordillera Feb. 28. | AspenTimes.com

Amid $100 million lawsuit, buyer says he’ll close Lodge at Cordillera Feb. 28.

Randy Wyrick
Vail Daily

EDWARDS — Cordillera and the Baltimore firm buying the lodge and spa are firing litigation bombs back and forth.

Noah Nordheimer's Concerted Care Group says it will close The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera on Feb 28. Nordheimer wants to spend $80 million to transform it into a health, wellness and high-end addiction treatment center.

Cordillera's residents returned fire with a $100 million class-action lawsuit, led by Thomas Wilner, a Washington, D.C., attorney who heads Cordillera's legal committee. Wilner went to war with the federal government when he represented 11 Kuwaiti prisoners held in the Guantanamo Bay detention center at the U.S. Navy base in eastern Cuba.

Cordillera's class-action lawsuit, filed in federal court in Denver, asks the court to stop Concerted Care Group and current Lodge owner, Austin, Texas-based Behringer Harvard. The lawsuit personally sues Behringer Harvard owner Robert M. Behringer and its President and CEO Michael D. Cohen.

“We are bringing in doctors and professionals who trained at Yale, MIT, Stanford, … some of the brightest minds in the country to live and work here. Yet they claim I am negatively impacting property values.”Noah NordheimerOwner and operator of Concerted Care Group

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The lawsuit says Behringer and Cohen "aided, abetted and directed the fraudulent activities of BH and make significant decisions regarding the operations and assets of BH."

Cordillera's property owners association and metro district are not parties to the class-action lawsuit.

Nordheimer not impressed

Nordheimer said he remains nonplussed, calling the $100 million lawsuit "frivolous."

"It's frivolous and will be treated as such," Nordheimer said.

The lawsuit asserts that Behringer Harvard is violating the same regulations it pushed through in 2009, which do not allow the kinds of "substantive changes" they now want to make, Wilner said.

"They're now asserting it can be replaced by any of the 33 other uses," Wilner said.

That $100 million is not a difficult number to reach when you add up the value of the 900 homes in Cordillera and calculate that they could drop between 30 and 50 percent in value, as homes have in other communities when facilities like this are opened, Wilner said.

Nordheimer rejects their claim.

"Any claims that we are negatively impacting home values are fabricated. Prices in Cordillera are up since we went under contract. I doubt they even looked at the sales data before filing this," Nordheimer said. "We are bringing in doctors and professionals who trained at Yale, MIT, Stanford, … some of the brightest minds in the country to live and work here. Yet they claim I am negatively impacting property values. … Come on, man!"

Also Grouse on the Green

Along with the lodge and spa, Nordheimer said Concerted Care Group is purchasing Grouse on the Green, the restaurant and clubhouse for Cordillera's par 3 golf course. His firm also is buying the Strawberry Park condominiums/Ski Chalet.

"We are excited to be moving ahead with this project," Nordheimer said.

Plans for that building have not been finalized, Nordheimer said.

"At this point, we're exploring all of our options for those ancillary properties, including selling them off to other groups," Nordheimer said.

Cordillera's property owners' association owns the short course.

"I'm not sure if their powers that be thought about how they would operate a golf course without a clubhouse or parking lot. It seems like a very large oversight on their part," Nordheimer said.

The par 3 golf course was separated from the property that operates it, Grouse on the Green, during the litigation with Cordillera Club owner David Wilhelm.

"It appears to have left the community in a vulnerable position, another gift from the Wilhelms to Cordillera," Nordheimer said.

District Court appeals

All this comes on the heels of a pair of lawsuits filed in local District Court, appealing a unanimous decision by Eagle County's Board of County Commissioners to allow Nordheimer to move ahead with his plan.

Cordillera Property Owners Association and the Cordillera Metro District sued Eagle County and the county commissioners, asking District Court Judge Fred Gannett to throw out the commissioners' decision.

Cordillera homeowners Barbara and Jack Benson sued Eagle County separately.

Cordillera wants the county commissioners' decision overturned and damages, costs, reasonable attorneys' fees and "any other relief that the court may deem just."

"I think the commissioners' decision was influenced a great deal by the idea that if they did not approve it, they could be sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act," Wilner said.

Cordillera's covenants do not allow the lodge to be separated from the rest of Cordillera and replaced with these other uses, Wilner said.

On top of that, those same covenants require 67 percent of the property owners to approve such a change, Wilner said.

However, metro district Executive Director Rachel Oys said the District Court lawsuits were part of Cordillera's appeal and not a new legal action.

"We believe under Colorado law it's our right to appeal any of these decisions," Oys said.

Nordheimer countered that Cordillera's appeals have nothing to do with the commissioners' decision. He said Colorado is second in the nation for prescription opioid abuse and that "people are dying at alarming rates, and this facility is desperately needed."

"I have never seen a group of seemingly successful people operate with such disregard for the law," Nordheimer said. "They have deliberately made immoral and illegal decisions in attempt to block people's access to care."

Staff writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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