Bank moves to foreclose on Bair Chase
Glenwood Springs correspondent
The saga of the Bair Chase golf development south of Glenwood Springs took a turn toward what may be its final chapter Wednesday.
A legal notice in the Post Independent announced that PlainsCapital Bank of Austin, Texas, which holds the deed of trust to the land, has filed for foreclosure and sale of the property.
Public trustee and Garfield County Treasurer Georgia Chamberlain is set to auction the property to the highest bidder on March 29 at the Garfield County Courthouse in Glenwood Springs.
Bair Chase has had its share of legal troubles since its inception as Sanders Ranch in 1997.
The 280-acre ranch, which Union Oil formerly owned, was targeted for 500 houses, an 18-hole golf course and 700,000 square feet of commercial development. But county commissioners turned down the plan after strong public outcry.
According to court documents, in 2002 the developer, LinksVest, sold the property to Bair Chase Property Co. LLC. A year later Bair Chase filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It was reportedly looking for financial backing, which it presumably found, at least in part, with PlainsCapital Bank.
The most recent plan for the golf community called for 62 single-family lots and 168 multifamily units surrounding an 18-hole golf course.
Last summer, earthwork began on the ranch, apparently before permanent financing was in place. A historic barn on the property was also leveled, sparking public outcry. A few weeks after excavating began, work ground to a halt when the developer could not pay contractors.
Valley residents also questioned a decision to start work on an irrigation ditch that disturbed an elk herd wintering at the site. Skittish elk seemed to eye heavy equipment prowling nearby.
Two contractors and an engineering firm are also taking legal action, claiming they haven’t been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for work they performed.
Bair Chase attorney Jim Lochhead was not available for comment.
Also part of the murky legal and financial picture is the Sopris Restaurant, which sits on the northern edge of the Bair Chase property. Bair Chase had been in negotiations to buy the restaurant from owner Kurt Wigger, but the deal fell through in September after Bair Chase failed to receive financing.
The restaurant’s sale to Sopris Properties LLC closed Jan. 10. Aspen architect Charles Cunniffe, one of the partners in Sopris Properties, has said the corporation is an investment group unaffiliated with Bair Chase. He said the corporation hopes to have another restaurant replace the old Sopris Restaurant.
Establishing an understanding of Aspen residents’ own contribution to tourism woes was a significant takeaway from the Aspen Chamber Resort Association’s Annual Tourism Outlook on Tuesday at the Lauder Seminar Room of the Koch Building on the Aspen Institute campus.