Grand Aspen suit settled | AspenTimes.com

Grand Aspen suit settled

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Neighbors of the planned Hyatt Grand Aspen agreed to drop their lawsuit blocking the project in a settlement reached Friday evening with the hotel’s developers.

The case had been scheduled for a two-day hearing in district court that was to begin yesterday morning.

With the unexpected end to the litigation, developers of the time-share hotel are scrambling to see if they can salvage some of the current construction season.

“That’s the great question we don’t know the answer to,” said David Parker, a partner in Four Peaks Developments. “We’ll know a lot more in a week or two.

“This dismissal caught us by surprise.”

The deal between members of the Galena Place Townhome Condominium Association and the hotel’s developers, Four Peaks and Grand Aspen Lodging LLC, allows the time-share hotel to be built to the 45-foot height approved by the Aspen City Council.

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“Beyond that, all terms of the settlement are confidential,” said Peter Thomas Jr., representing the four Galena Place homeowners. “Suffice it to say, my clients are pleased with the outcome and look forward to neighborly relations with the Hyatt from here on out.”

No money is changing hands as part of the settlement, according to attorney Matthew Ferguson, representing Four Peaks and Grand Aspen Lodging.

Developers had hoped to begin construction of the new hotel last spring after the City Council gave final approval to the project in January. A month later, the Galena Place homeowners filed suit over the height of the planned structure, hampering the developers’ efforts to secure financing.

Four Peaks’ ability to get the project moving again quickly depends on several factors, according to Ferguson.

“A project of this magnitude, it doesn’t stop and start on a dime,” he said.

Some of the construction contracts for the hotel have expired and will need to be rebid, and the financing of the project must still be arranged, Parker said.

Actual construction of the hotel is expected to take about two years. Four Peaks originally planned to open the hotel in the spring of 2004.

The 51-suite Hyatt Grand Aspen, to be operated by Hyatt Vacation Club, will be built where the former Grand Aspen Hotel once stood on Dean Street, south of the Silver Circle Ice Rink. The old hotel was razed last year.

As part of their lawsuit, the neighbors had been seeking a preliminary injunction to halt construction of the hotel pending the outcome of the case. The injunction was to be the subject of this week’s court hearing.

The settlement was a “pleasant” development, Ferguson said.

Although the settlement talks involved the developers and the neighbors, the bulk of the lawsuit was directed at the city of Aspen.

The neighbors claimed the city acted improperly in approving the height of the new hotel and challenged the constitutionality of Aspen’s land-use regulations.

“We had a strong case,” said City Attorney John Worcester, who was notified at home Friday evening that the suit had been settled.

Also dropped as part of the settlement was a separate lawsuit claiming “breach of covenant,” filed by Grand Aspen Lodging against a couple who are members of the Galena Place Townhome Condominium Association.

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com]

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