Couple found to own free-market condo ordered to sell North 40 home
Editor’s note: This article has been corrected to accurately reflect that Michael Hoffman has a law practice in Aspen.
Owners of employee housing have been ordered to sell their North 40 neighborhood home by a hearing officer who determined they violated local guidelines by owning a free-market residence in Aspen that they had rented out to long-term tenants.
A lawyer for the owners in their dispute with the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority said Monday they will likely appeal the ruling delivered last month by hearing officer Mick Ireland. Beyond that, McIntyre’s attorney, Michael Hoffman, who has offices in Aspen and Montrose, declined comment. Tricia McIntyre, the central player cited in Ireland’s ruling, also did not respond to a message seeking comment Monday.
Ireland’s ruling was issued Sept. 12 and came on the heels of a hearing held in April and two hearings in July on the matter. The ruling sided with APCHA, which governs the local worker-housing system and, in March, found couple Cameron and Tricia McIntyre to be in violation of the master deed restriction for the North 40 subdivision, which is a combination of 59 single-family residents and 13 townhomes next to the Aspen Airport Business Center.
The restriction prohibits North 40 homeowners from owning “alone or in conjunction with others, any other developed residential property in those portions of Eagle, Garfield, Gunnison or Pitkin counties, which are part of the Roaring Fork Drainage.
“The deed restriction is clear in stating that an owner of property at the North 40 may not own other property along or in conjunction with others,” said Ireland’s ruling. “Here, the LLC manager (Ms. McIntyre) owned or controlled several of the ‘bundle of sticks’ that define property ownership.”
Through the creation of a limited liability company called CMTR, the McIntryes bought a three-bedroom, three-bath townhome on Park Circle for $1.2 million in 2017, Ireland’s order concluded. Borrowing $1.025 million against their North 40 home allowed them to buy this Park Circle townhome, according to hearing testimony. CMTR also paid $156,891 toward the McIntyre’s $1,030,000 mortgage from 2018 through 2021, Ireland’s order said.
“CMTR, LLC has made substantial principal and interest payments on the McIntyre’s mortgage for their home at 5 Riverdown Drive at North 40 under a note and deed of trust for which the McIntyre’s are personally liable and for which CMTR, LLC has no responsibility for payment,” Ireland’s order said.
CMTR deposited the Park Circle townhome’s rental income of $310,298 from 2017-2020 into accounts controlled by Tricia McIntyre, according to her own testimony, though Ireland’s report said “corresponding tax returns reported only $220,313 in total ‘gross rents’ … for those years.”
Tricia McIntyre’s name was on CMTR’s corporate paperwork, public property records, loan documents and the sales contract for the Park Circle property, the order said. That and other evidence compelled Ireland to determine, by piercing the corporate veil, that the McIntyre couple are the actual owners of the Park Circle residence.
“Therefore, the HO (hearing officer) must find that Ms. McIntyre effectively owned the property as she controlled its rental use, its bank accounts, its disbursement of funds to related entities she owned and paid personal obligations without any corporate resolution authorizing her to do so,” the order said.
Hoffman and the McIntyres had previously said the townhome was actually intended as a gift for their two sons once they graduate from college; corporate papers for the LLC that owns the townhome had their sons’ names; and, 1996 APCHA guidelines allowed children to own property in the Roaring Fork Valley. The North 40 project was approved under employee housing guidelines from 1996-97.
APCHA asked Ireland to order the McIntyres to sell their North 40 home, while Hoffman asked that the 409 Park Circle home be put up for sale if they were found out of compliance.
Ireland noted in his order that ordering them to sell the Park Circle home would “reward misbehavior by allowing the consequences to be a mere return to the status quo” and would set a precedent that employee housing owners could create LLCs to own additional property.
If Ireland’s ruling stands, the McIntyres must sell their North 40 single-family they built in 2002 after acquiring their North 40 lot in 2000, according to the Assessor’s Office. The 2,710-square-foot home has an assessed value (the amount home’s property tax is based on) of $118,370, and an actual value of $1.7 million.
The sales price of the North 40 would be based on the McIntyres’ $150,000 purchase of the lot, plus 4% appreciation; the amount it took to build the home, with 4% appreciation from the time a certificate of occupancy was issued; and other factors cited in the the master deed restriction for the North 40 neighborhood.
Homes at North 40 are classified as resident occupied, or RO, under APCHA rules and do not have restrictions on income or assets like category housing does. Owners of North 40 housing are required to earn 75% of their income in Pitkin County, among other criteria.
A family’s decision to cancel a wedding event at The Little Nell because of COVID-19 restrictions did not entitle them to a deposit refund of nearly $60,000.