Hotel Jerome owners in talks ‘to avoid foreclosure’
September 30, 2009
ASPEN – Efforts are under way to stave off foreclosure proceedings on Aspen’s Hotel Jerome, which is scheduled to be auctioned off Jan. 27.
That’s according to David Pisor, the CEO of Chicago-based Elysian Worldwide, a joint owner of the Main Street landmark along with Capital Partners LLC, also of Chicago. The hotel is operated by RockResorts, a division of Vail Resorts.
“Elysian Worldwide LLC and Lodging Capital Partners LLC remain committed to RockResorts management and to the Hotel Jerome. We are currently in discussions with our lenders to avoid foreclosure,” Pisor said in a statement issued to The Aspen Times on Tuesday by his public relations director.
Pisor’s statement comes after the Pitkin County Treasurer’s Office started foreclosure proceedings Thursday when it filed a “notice of election and demand for sale.” The notice says that the current owners have an unpaid loan balance of $36.3 million on the property, located at 330 E. Main St.
Hotel Jerome general manager Brendan Carlin declined to comment specifically about the foreclosure proceedings.
“It’s business as usual and we intend to manage this hotel even with the change of ownership,” he said yesterday.
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To Warren Klug, general manager of Aspen Square Condominium Hotel and chair of the board of directors for the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, the Hotel Jerome is part of Aspen’s identity.
“We all know the Hotel Jerome is a real classic in Aspen and has been a foundation of our image for many, many years,” he said “It’s a very wonderful and special property.”
The 92-room hotel has a rich history, from the time it was built in 1889 by Jerome Wheeler. Aspen luminary Walter Paepcke bought and renovated the Jerome in 1946, and it’s where John Wayne, Gary Cooper and other stars of the silver screen, as well as artists, writers and the like, gathered in the 1950s.
A change of ownership would mark the third such exchange for the hotel since 2005, when Oklahoma Publishing Inc., controlled by the Gaylord family, bought it for $33.7 million from Jim McManus.
Frustrated because of the difficulty it encountered in renovating the historic hotel because of city restrictions, Oklahoma Publishing sold the property, in 2007, for $52 million to the current owners.
The new owners financed most of the purchase with a $48 million mortgage, or deed of trust, through Morgan Stanley Mortgage Capital Inc., according to public records. The holder of the deed of trust changed at least twice. The current owner, Jerome Property LLC, which has offices in Chicago and is incorporated in Delaware, bought the deed from Aurora Bank, an affiliate of Lehman Brothers Holding Inc., on Aug. 31, records show.
Klug said that no matter what happens with the ownership of the Hotel Jerome, “the financial turmoil does not mean it goes away.”