Deal seals Skico HQ return to ABC |

Deal seals Skico HQ return to ABC

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The owners of the Aspen Skiing Co. have finalized the $2.4 million purchase of the company’s former headquarters at the Aspen Business Center across from the airport.

The Crown family of Chicago bought the building knowing that if the proposed Base Village project at Snowmass Ski Area is approved this fall, the company will soon need to relocate a number of administrative employees.

“If the Snowmass Village plan is approved and we begin construction this fall, the administration building and the snowcat shop have to be demolished and so the people in that building will have to move,” said David Perry, the Skico’s senior vice president of sales and marketing.

The Skico built the Plaza 117 building, which is between the Flying Fish Cafe and the Sport Obermeyer building, in 1982. It housed offices for almost all of the company’s executives and employees in the human resources, accounting, and marketing departments for about a decade.

In the late 1980s, some Skico employees called the company’s headquarters the “Cow Palace” and felt that the company’s senior executives were cloistered in the building and were not connected to the day-to-day operations of the ski area.

In the early 1990s, the Skico decided to move out of the building and scatter administrative personnel at the base of Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk Mountain and the Snowmass Ski Area.

Today, Skico CEO Pat O’Donnell and other top executives have offices in the administration building at the base of Snowmass, along with the accounting and information technology departments. The company’s human resources offices are at the bottom of Buttermilk and its marketing offices are in the recently built Highlands Village.

The Skico expects that about 60 employees will eventually work out of its old/new headquarters building, which will be renovated either in stages or all at once, depending on whether the Base Village project moves into the construction phase this fall or next spring.

The company’s senior management and accounting, legal and marketing departments could end up back at the ABC.

“I think it will be good to have some key people in the company in close proximity to one another,” Perry said. “It facilitates good communication. And we all have a strong motivation to get out on the mountains often.”

The company sold the ABC building in 1994 for $2.1 million. Last month, the Crown family closed the $2.4 million deal but bought only the front portion of the building, about 14,000 square feet in all. Hansen Construction Inc. has retained ownership of the back half of the building, which was originally built as a loading dock and warehouse space for the Skico.

The front portion of the building has been divided into a number of small offices. The leases on most of those offices were set to expire this spring. The Skico has extended a number of those leases until December of this year, according to Perry.

If the Base Village construction gets under way this year and the Snowmass administration building is torn down, a number of mountain operations employees at Snowmass will be relocated, some temporarily, to different facilities.

“There is going to be a chess game of personnel movements required as we start construction in Snowmass,” Perry said. “And it is a fairly complex chess game.”

For example, Snowmass patrollers and lift operations crews may work out of temporary trailers until a children’s center is built in the new village. Then, the mountain employees may move into space in the bottom of the Timbermill building where the children’s center is today.

The Base Village, or “Snowmass Village” project as it is now called, has entered the second stage of a three-stage review process in the town of Snowmass Village. If the process moves quickly, the project could gain “preliminary” approval by the end of the summer. That level of approval may allow limited construction to begin on the proposed building site.

The village includes 635 condos and a million square feet of overall development.

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