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Hospital CEO’s home a steal

Allyn Harvey

Take the most basic comparison of home prices and it looks as if Aspen Valley Hospital CEO Randy Middlebrook is getting a great deal by purchasing his Meadowood home for $500,000.

The county assessor’s records of home sales in his neighborhood indicate that, since 1998, the price of moving into Meadowood has ranged between $1.2 million and $2.5 million.

Most of those sales have involved homes with three or four bedrooms. The most expensive was a 3,600-square-foot, four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home on Heather Lane that sold on July 31 for $2,475,000; the least expensive sale in the last two years was a 5,955-square-foot home that sold for $1,250,000 on July 3.

“Those prices reflect the value of the land. There’s a lot of turnover there right now with the existing houses being torn down and replaced,” said a local real estate broker who asked not to be named.

Middlebrook, his wife and two children currently rent their four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom house from the hospital. It’s located on a one-acre parcel on the edge of the hospital’s campus, which borders the bottom of the subdivision.

The Aspen Valley Hospital board of directors has agreed to sell the house to their CEO as part of his next contract. The deal was made possible last month after the Pitkin County Commissioners voted unanimously to remove all but a few deed restrictions that had been placed on the home when its construction was approved in 1992.

The house, finished in 1994, was approved after the hospital board told the county commissioners they needed a place to house their top administrator. The county approval classified the home as a rental property in the affordable housing program.

Now that they have the go-ahead to sell the house, the asking price is $500,000. Hospital board member Tom Griffiths told The Aspen Times that the price basically reflects the $450,000 cost of construction. Once they buy it, the Middlebrooks will be allowed to live there as long as they live and work in Aspen, regardless if Randy or anyone else in the family works at the hospital.

So compared to the cost of other homes in Meadowood, it looks like the CEO’s family is getting a good deal. As one caller to The Aspen Times put it last week, “You can’t even buy a one-bedroom apartment in town for $500,000.”

But there are some caveats which make direct comparisons between Middlebrook’s home and other Meadowood properties difficult. For one, Griffiths pointed out, the hospital will retain ownership of the land underneath the house. So while Middlebrook will own the home, he won’t own the land, which will be leased to him for 50 years.

For another, increases in the value of the house are capped at between 3 and 4 percent a year by its designation as a “resident occupied” property. As prices escalate all around him, Middlebrook’s investment will be growing quite moderately.

The hospital has the right of first refusal to purchase the property back from Middlebrook, in the event he sells it.


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