Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority can hire receiver on Mulcahy sale, judge rules
A local judge’s order Friday gives the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority permission to hire a receiver to administer the sale of outspoken resident Lee Mulcahy’s house at Burlingame Ranch.
The written order, delivered by Pitkin County District Judge Chris Seldin, means APCHA can enlist the national firm Cordes & Co., which has offices in Greenwood Village, to sell the single-family home Mulcahy has refused to relinquish.
“There will have to be a contract signed and approved between APCHA and the receiver, so that will have to be negotiated,” said APCHA counsel Thomas Smith, adding there is no time-line on the hiring date of the receiver.
APCHA plans to use its right to purchase Mulcahy’s deed-restricted worker housing. According to an attachment to Seldin’s order, Cordes & Co. would enter into a contract with APCHA to list the property for sale at “the maximum sale price of $995,000. … If APCHA exercises its right to purchase the property in accordance with the deed restriction, the receiver shall negotiate with APCHA a commercially reasonable purchase and sale contract in accordance with generally accepted real estate standards.”
How smooth the transaction plays out, however, remains to be seen because of Mulcahy’s relentlessness in the court system dating back to when APCHA sued Mulcahy in December 2015. Mulcahy has claimed that APCHA has unfairly singled him out for not meeting authority’s ownership requirements of working 1,500 hours a year in Pitkin County.
But it’s APCHA that is the problem, Mulcahy has said while offering a litany of reasons why he believes city government, the local justice system, the print media, Aspen Skiing Co., several nonprofit organizations and others have conspired to oppress him over the years.
Because he is an artist, work hours aren’t necessarily documented, making it impossible to prove his time on the clock, Mulcahy has said. Because he is outspoken against his former employer Skico and local government, APCHA has had a bias against him, Mulcahy has said. Because he is a Republican, APCHA’s connection to the liberal forces at Aspen City Hall is another reason they want him out, he has said.
None of those claims, however, have mattered to APCHA, and because Mulcahy has ignored Seldin’s order to sell the home, APCHA in July took measures to hire a receiver.
Its first effort didn’t work out, because Mulcahy successfully demonstrated there was an appearance of a conflict of interest by APCHA when it sought Seldin’s permission to appoint Basalt attorney Tim Whitsitt as receiver to oversee the property’s listing and sale. At a hearing in September, Seldin agreed that Whitsitt and Smith had a personal history over the years, and said APCHA would have to find another receiver.
In Friday’s order, Seldin said Cordes & Co. is a reputable, neutral firm that has previously handled receivership cases in the local court system.
“It has extensive experience in the field and understands its obligation to this court, and not to either party,” the order said.
Mulcahy contested the hiring of Cordes & Co. in an Oct. 30-dated pleading, saying the court should allow him to question the firm’s receivers, under oath, about potential alliances with Smith.
In another court filing, Mulcahy identified three different receivers he would support to handle the sale of his home, prompting Smith, in a Nov. 8 pleading, to say he “has no standing to propose a receiver to act on his behalf. If Mulcahy wants any control over the disposition of his property in accordance with the judgment of the court, he simply needs to comply with the judgment.”
Seldin’s order said Mulcahy can discuss his concerns with Cordes & Co. — but not in his proposed open hearing — “and if it produces credible concerns of bias, he may bring those to the attention of the court.”
Under the order, Mulcahy must allow the receiver into his residence when given 24 hours notice. Mulcahy also “shall take no action to impair the title of the property, the condition of the property, or the improvements located theron, or its value.”
With many lingering questions still surrounding the fate of Aspen’s historic Old Powerhouse, City Council decided during Monday’s work session to hold off on providing staff direction on moving the preservation project forward until more information can be presented.