Base Village suitor assures town he has deep pockets
August 21, 2006
The man negotiating to buy out Intrawest Corp. at Base Village said he is having no problem interesting potential financiers.Patrick Smith, principal in the privately held WestPac Investments LLC, met with the Snowmass Village Town Council Monday night to ease concerns about his financial ability to take on such an enormous project.”The economics it’s going to take to make Base Village happen is substantial. Can I do it alone? No,” said Smith.But he doesn’t have to. Smith said he has been approached by several “institutional investors” who are interested in supplying the money to undertake the project. He hopes to announce where the financing is coming from within the next two months. “It will become very public,” he assured the council.Smith, Intrawest and the Aspen Skiing Co. announced Aug. 15 they had signed a letter of intent for Smith’s WestPac to buy the commercial and residential development component of Base Village – a 1 million-square-foot project at the main base of Snowmass Ski Area. The letter could evolve into a binding purchase agreement in 60 days if both sides favor continuing with the deal. The potential sales price wasn’t disclosed.At Base Village, Smith would be a partner with the Skico. The Skico would own skier services and community amenities that are part of the commercial space in the village. The Skico would also manage some of the residential properties. Smith would control the space where retailers and restaurants would go.Smith said his development company employees 900 people in five Western states. He has projects that are, in aggregate, larger than Base Village, he noted. One project is a master-planned development in Albuquerque, N.M., with 3,400 homes. Snowmass Village Mayor Doug Mercatoris told Smith that many business operators have been in town for 30 or more years and are familiar with one another and their ways of doing business.”You’re the new kid on the block. You have to prove yourself,” Mercatoris said.If Smith isn’t well known yet, he soon will be. He’s poised to be the kingpin of the Snowmass Village business world. He is already a major player in the ownership group in the Snowmass Center, where the village’s grocery store and post office are located. He will soon acquire a major ownership interest in the Snowmass Village Mall and surrounding properties. That will give him controlling interests in the town’s three primary commercial areas.Councilman John Wilkinson said Smith’s monopoly creates “a lot of angst in our community.”Despite those concerns and the tough talk about Smith needing to prove himself, there is nothing the town can do about Smith’s growing role except cross its fingers that the relationship goes well. The town government has already granted the approvals to build Base Village. As long as Smith doesn’t apply to change the plan, he doesn’t need anything from the town to proceed.”At this point and time we’re not seeking any amendments,” Smith said.The Town Council and many residents also want the center and mall redeveloped.Despite his power position, Smith has been very congenial with the town and humble about his role. “I did not come here to impose any plans on the village,” he said. Instead, he wants to provide the capital to build the projects that have already been identified as the community’s vision.”Snowmass is one of the best opportunities I’ve seen in the western United States,” he said.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is email@example.com.