Hunt gets first priority to buy foreclosed Aspen building
The Aspen Times
Developer Mark Hunt will get first crack at acquiring a troubled East Hopkins Avenue building that a bank foreclosed on last month, a county treasurer said Thursday.
The Hunt-controlled 308 E. Hopkins Ave. LLC is among four lienholders that filed what’s called an “intent to redeem” by Wednesday’s deadline. Hunt, who placed a $500,000 lien on the building after he lent that amount to JW Ventures, has senior rights over the other lienholders, said Pitkin County Chief Deputy Treasurer Syd Tofany. With interest, that lien currently stands at $538,296, according to public records.
“They have the first opportunity” to buy the building from Alpine Bank for the amount it bid, along with associated fees, Tofany said.
The bank repossessed the building, located in the heart of Aspen’s restaurant row at 308 E. Hopkins Ave., from JW Ventures at a foreclosure auction Nov. 18. Alpine placed the sole bid of just over $5.5 million, roughly $200,000 more than it loaned to JW Ventures in February 2010. JW Ventures owes nearly $4.9 million in arrears to the bank.
Tofany said Hunt has from Dec. 11 until noon Dec. 17 to redeem the property, which comprises two commercial and three affordable-housing units. The $8 million penthouse upstairs, owned by married couple Michael Sedoy and Natalia Shvachko, is not included.
Aspen attorney Curtis Sanders, who represents Hunt in his local property deals, said the developer will likely acquire the building. Hunt previously had it under contract to buy for $6 million before the foreclosure action and lawsuits took hold.
“Obviously, by filing his notice of intent, he is intending on purchasing the property,” Sanders said, adding that Hunt is not prepared to reveal his plans for the space if he buys it.
Should Hunt not buy the property, next in line is Pelham Holding Corp. and architect Charles Cunniffe, which have separate liens in the amounts of $119,679 and $441,227; next is Aspen law firm Oates, Knezevich, Gardenswartz, Kelly & Morrow PC, with a lien having a principal amount of $200,000.
Sedoy and Shvachko have final priority, with a lien that has grown to $1.71 million following a $1.28 million Pitkin County District Court judgment they won against JW Ventures. In May, then-District Judge Gail Nichols ruled that JW Ventures wrongly assured the couple they would have exclusive rights to the building’s front entrance, east stairway and main elevator. The judge also ruled that the couple violated a city of Aspen ordinance by barring renters of affordable-housing units in the building from using the access.
Hunt’s lien trumps the others because he has what’s called a subordination agreement giving it priority over Pelham Holding Corp. and Cunniffe, Tofany said.
Tenants at the city’s oldest deed-restricted housing complex, Centennial Apartments, faced rent hikes as high as 30% in January that sent city, county, and APCHA officials into closed-door meetings with the relatively new landlord, Birge & Held.