Business Monday: Aspen Club seeks approval for $140 million in financing | AspenTimes.com

Business Monday: Aspen Club seeks approval for $140 million in financing

The bankrupt Aspen Club is asking for court approval of up to $140 million in exit financing to help it reorganize its debts and resume construction on its major redevelopment project .
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times

Operators of the Aspen Club are seeking up to $140 million in exit financing as part of their Chapter 11 bankruptcy organization plan but are facing opposition from a trio of creditors.

A court motion filed Sept. 16 in the U.S Bankruptcy Court of Denver seeks a judge’s approval for the financing.

The motion claims the financing would enable the project to get completed and the creditors — which range from small subcontractors to major lenders — to be paid. The financing would be provided by EFO Financial Group LLC of Florida, which previously received court approval to lend $4.2 million to the club so it can stay solvent through its bankruptcy proceedings.

So far the proposal has received push-back from lenders GPIF Aspen Club and Revere High Yield Fund LLP, and Gould Construction. On Friday, the three entities filed a motion objecting to the financing plan, arguing that the club is not playing by the rules because the court has deemed it “single asset real estate debtor,” which means it must adhere to accelerated rules for implementing a reorganization plan.

The three creditors collectively hold $50.5 million of the club’s secured debt, which accounts for more than half of the total secured debt. Their motion also contends the club’s exit plan is “dead on arrival” and it most be held to tighter time restrictions.

“In sum, this case is an all-too-familiar story of an inexperienced real estate developer who, through either fraud, dishonesty, incompetence or gross mismanagement, has failed to complete a development project,” reads the motion, which contends the Aspen Club is simply trying to buy more time so it can gain leverage in the case.

The motion was filed by Jason G. Cohen of the Houston firm Bracewell LLP, which represents GPIF Aspen Club, and Denver lawyer Kenneth J. Buechler on behalf of Gould Construction.

Meanwhile, the club’s motion says it would use proceeds from the financing to pay off $26.5 million in mechanics’ liens owed to contractors as well as the previous loan from EFO Financial Group. The financing also would allow the club to satisfy tax and insurance obligations while resuming work on the project, the motion says.

Under the terms of the exit financing strategy, lender GPIF, which holds a construction loan note of $45 million it obtained from FirstBank in the summer of 2017, would “receive the first $10 million of ‘net sale proceeds’ from the sale of fractional ownership interests in townhomes after each $50 million in payments to reduce the principal balance of the exit loan,” the motion says, adding that GPIF will have received $20 million by the time the exit lender is paid $100 million.

The club also contends FirstBank funded $30 million of the $45 million, which is part of the reason the project floundered.

“In the exercise of their business judgment, (the Aspen Club) believe(s) that the proposed exit financing represents the best offer reasonably available, with the greatest certainty of funding, to the reorganized debtors for financing in an amount sufficiently adequate to complete the entire project and to effectuate a successful reorganization,” wrote Aspen Club attorney James Markus, of the Denver firm Markus Williams Young and Hunsicker, in last week’s pleading.

Construction on the major redevelopment of the Aspen Club was planned for completion in the fall of 2018. It was suspended, however, in September 2017 when the majority of subcontractors quit the job because they had not been paid for their work and materials. Left incomplete are the club’s plans for four-bedroom luxury condos, 10 three-bedroom luxury townhomes, four four-bedroom luxury townhomes and 12 worker-housing units. The residential aspect of the club would account for nearly 64,000 square feet.

The townhome and club residences would be sold as fractionals, under the club’s plan. So far, the club has generated $18 million in pre-sales for the one-eighth fractional, at an average price of $3,594 per square foot, the motion says.

Also planned is a 60,838-square-foot club and spa with other amenities.

In May 2018, the Aspen Club and its subsidiary and project arm Aspen Club Redevelopment Co. filed separate Chapter 11 bankruptcy petitions. Both cases have been consolidated into one.

The Aspen Club, located at 1450 Ute Ave., originally opened in 1976 as a tennis and racquetball facility.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com


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