County OKs Elk Mountain compound |

County OKs Elk Mountain compound

Joel StoningtonAspen, CO Colorado

PITKIN COUNTY Elk Mountain Lodge, a popular spot for parties, weddings and other events, won approval from Pitkin County commissioners Wednesday to become a single-family home. With the approval, the 28,000-square-foot Castle Creek Shangri-La, which is located near the ghost town of Ashcroft, is poised to become a 27,500-square-foot, 17-bedroom luxury compound with a swimming pool and tennis court for the pending buyer, energy magnate Bill Koch. The 52-acre property was sold for $3.5 million in 1992 and listed for $24.5 million before it went under contract in September 2006, according to county records and published reports. It was listed as one of the most expensive ski homes in the U.S. by Forbes in 2005. The 318-page proposal, put together by planning consultant Glenn Horn and Aspen land-use attorney Gideon Kauffman, received kudos from county commissioners. Part of the reason for the extensive proposal was the lengthy history of the property, with numerous past decisions and covenants handed down from the county. Originally, Horn said, the property was a homestead built in 1907 as something of a suburb of Ashcroft. The original homestead and a building created as a chicken coop of the homestead received historical designation Wednesday and will be converted to single-bedrooms a short walk from the main lodge. In the 1930s, the property was converted into a dude ranch with hunting and fishing as the main attraction. At most, there were up to 29 bedrooms and many cabins at the ranch. The present lodge was built and permitted as a recreation hall in the late 1980s and became a popular place for weddings and other gatherings up through present time. Commissioner Jack Hatfield noted that the property has a host of good memories of events for many, including himself. Much of the proposal focused on ways that the property will become easier on the eyes. One of the smaller houses will be torn down and rebuilt in a place that is less within the view plane. Further, the patio area of the lodge will be filled in so that the 17,000-square-foot building will seem smaller.”We think that will be an improvement for the public view because it will read like a two-story building,” Horn said. The buyer, Bill Koch, is majority owner of the energy firm Oxbow Corp. He lost a protracted, public legal battle with two brothers over stake in the family oil business, Koch Industries, in 1998. An avid collector and yachtsman, his boat won the 1992 America’s Cup against Italy.In 2005, Koch was in the news for bankrolling the fight against a 130 turbine wind farm proposed for Nantucket Sound, Mass. According to Cape Cod Today, Koch donated more than $1.1 million to help stop the project.Koch married Bridget Rooney, granddaughter of Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art Rooney, in 2005. Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is

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