Deadline for Base Village deal nears | AspenTimes.com

Deadline for Base Village deal nears

Pat Smith is nearing an important deadline that could determine if he will be able to complete the purchase of Base Village from Intrawest Corp. and Aspen Skiing Co., according to sources familiar with the negotiations.Smith is scheduled to close on the purchase of the commercial portion of the 1 million-square-foot, mixed-use development at the base of Snowmass Ski Area. That part of the deal could wrap up within days, according to a source familiar with the deal who didn’t want to be identified.That step is significant because it could indicate whether Smith will be able to arrange financing to purchase the more lucrative – and expensive – residential part of the village, the source said. In other words, buying the commercial part of the village establishes Smith as a legitimate player in the multimillion-dollar deal.Smith wasn’t available for comment. He evolved in the past year as the key developer in Snowmass Village as part of investor groups that have acquired the Snowmass Center and the Snowmass mall.Smith emerged as a surprise potential buyer of Base Village this summer. He initially was interested in buying just the commercial portion of Base Village. While investigating that purchase, he made an offer for the entire village.Jim Crown, the managing partner of the Skico, confirmed that the sale is divided into two parts, for a couple of reasons. First, that’s the way the offers came in. Second, all three parties want to establish as soon as possible who is responsible for leasing commercial space to tenants, Crown said.It is vital to have businesses operating in the parts of the village that will open for the 2007-08 ski season, Crown said. It wouldn’t be good for the Skico or Snowmass Village if unoccupied buildings were located in the base next ski season, he said. If the sale of the commercial space closes as expected, Smith’s organization will be responsible for finding renters and buyers. If not, Intrawest will carry through with arrangements it started making before Smith made his offer.The construction phasing plan for the village says that 32,000 square feet of restaurants, bars and cafes are scheduled to open in one building next year. Phase II includes 13,400 square feet of shops to open in another building in 2007-08; and 9,200 square feet of bars, restaurants and retail shops in a third building between 2007 and 2009.Smith previously said he would control about 60,000 square feet of commercial space in the village. The Skico would control about 80,000 square feet for skier services. That would include ticketing offices, ski school space and a 25,000-square-foot kids center.The residential part of the project includes 334 condominiums, a 27-unit Little Nell condo-hotel and a 226-unit Westin Lodge condo-hotel. They would be phased in between 2007 and 2011.Crown declined to disclose if a closing date has been set for the sale of the commercial property or if there is a drop-dead date on the deal. He also declined to comment on whether Smith’s ability to purchase the commercial property would signify an ability to purchase the residential part of the project.Crown said the parties are simply working away on the due diligence to see if the sales can be completed. He didn’t view anything as particularly newsworthy at this point.”It’s like asking, ‘What’s happening back in the kitchen?’ It’s cooking away,” he said. “If you asked again tomorrow, I’d say, ‘it’s cooking away.’ “Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com.