Developer hopes to speed Aspen Residences project
ASPEN ” After facing heat from prospective buyers over delays, the developer of a luxury timeshare project in Aspen moved up the targeted completion date.
The developer of The Residences at The Little Nell sent an e-mail to buyers Friday informing them that the anticipated opening of the multimillion-dollar project at the base of Aspen Mountain won’t be as late as once feared. The e-mail, obtained by The Aspen Times, is an abrupt change in direction for Residences at Little Nell Development LLC. It coincides with a lawsuit filed by angry buyers who want their purchase contracts canceled.
On Sept. 5, the development firm sent a letter informing buyers of the fractional-ownership units that the closing deadline for sales agreements had to be extended until March 31, 2009. Unanticipated construction delays required more time to finish the project, the developer’s letter explained.
“Closings could occur as early as December and we expect them to be no later than early 2009,” the letter said. “We are still targeting a formal opening in the early part of 2009 and we will inform you when we have received permission from the City of Aspen to occupy the building.”
But the e-mail sent to buyers Friday said the outlook for opening the project and completing the sales deals had improved.
“While our September notice anticipated that we might need to delay closing into March of next year, a redoubling of our construction and engineering efforts has produced great results and we are now confident that an extension is no longer necessary,” the latest e-mail said.
“We recognize that the holiday season is a busy time for many of you, and we further recognize that the September notice may have created some confusion, so as an accommodation to you, we would be willing to extend your closing date to a mutually acceptable date in January 2009,” Friday’s e-mail continued.
The Residences at The Little Nell experienced little trouble attracting well-heeled buyers after it was approved in 2005. The 26 three- and four-bedroom units will be managed and operated by the Aspen Skiing Co.’s Little Nell Hotel, Aspen’s only five-diamond, five-star property.
Buyers are entitled to the units for six weeks of the year. All but a handful of the weeks in three-bedroom units have been sold, and all the four-bedroom units are sold. Prices soared to $1.9 million for a six-week share in the three-bedroom units and $3 million for six weeks in the four-bedroom units.
But construction of the project was plagued from the start. The unstable soils at the base of Aspen Mountain forced a redesign of the foundation and construction of a massive retaining wall.
Four buyers of intervals claim the construction delay triggered provisions in the contracts that allow them to terminate the deals. They teamed to file a lawsuit Thursday asking a judge to declare the contracts terminated and order the return of their earnest money.
The developer’s new e-mail, saying the extension for the closing of the deals wouldn’t be needed, came a day after the lawsuit was filed. R.J. Gallagher, a spokesman for the development firm, didn’t return repeated telephone calls seeking comment.
Neil Karbank, the attorney for the plaintiffs, declined comment on the lawsuit or on the latest e-mail from the developer.
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