Krabloonik can buy its land from Snowmass Village in 2021 |

Krabloonik can buy its land from Snowmass Village in 2021

Gina and Danny Phillips, who purchased Krabloonik in December, harness dogs to a sled earlier this winter.
Aubree Dallas/Aspen Times |

The new owners of Krabloonik would have the option to purchase the land the dog-sledding business sits on in 2021, according to lease negotiations conducted at a Snowmass Village Town Council work session Monday.

The town owns the land because in 2006 it swapped a neighboring parcel with Krabloonik founder Dan MacEachen for his property, a deal worked out in order to help MacEachen get out of debt and ensure the life of the amenity, the council heard Monday. MacEachen would have had the option to purchase the property back next year, according to his lease with the town, but after being charged with animal cruelty in 2013, he sold the business to his directors of operation Danny and Gina Phillips at the end of 2014.

Mayor Markey Butler said she wanted to offer the Phillipses the best deal possible to help their business succeed. She worried that locking in a price or only offering them a five-year extension if they choose not to exercise their purchase option would limit a future Town Council from doing what it could to preserve what she called an “iconic treasure.”

However, Councilman Chris Jacobson said he thought that might further limit future elected officials who might not agree that dog sledding is the best use for the property.

“I think the town’s being very generous,” he said.

Town Attorney John Dresser pointed out that if the couple buys the property, they might not want to continue operating a sledding business on it. Holding off on the purchase option could actually more effectively ensure the longevity of the amenity, he said.

But Danny Phillips said his interest lies in putting together all the pieces of the business. He added that he and his wife will be paying off their purchase of the Krabloonik dogs for some time, and that it’s unlikely they’ll be ready to buy the land soon.

Both parties agreed to stick with five years as the start date for the purchase option. As for the purchase price, negotiations started off at $2.3 million — the equivalent of what MacEachen sold the lot adjacent to Krabloonik for — plus inflation.

The Phillipses didn’t learn that price until Monday’s meeting. Jacobson pointed out that there is nothing stopping them from negotiating a lower price with a future set of elected officials. While there was some discussion of leaving the price fixed at $2.3 million, Town Manager Clint Kinney encouraged the council members to account for at least some inflation.

“If this lease goes for 26 years, … that’ll be the most screaming deal in this village,” he said.

In the end, the board agreed to price it at $2.3 million plus the lesser of the consumer price index or 3 percent inflation, a formula the town uses to calculate the resale price of employee housing units.

Review committee

The other issue settled in the meeting was the role of a residents advisory group that will monitor Krabloonik’s adherence to its list of best practices for the care of the dogs.

“It’s important that we work together to find people that don’t have an agenda but are interested enough and knowledgeable enough to determine whether they are following their best practices, because that’s their primary purpose,” said attorney David Myler, who is assisting the Phillipses through the lease negotiations.

The council agreed that the town and the Phillipses should each appoint three people to the committee in order to have equal representation on the board. While changes to the lease will only happen after negotiations between the town and Krabloonik, the board will inspect the business at least quarterly and communicate with the town manager.

“You’re keeping your finger on the pulse down there now, which the landlord didn’t really have the right to do before,” Dresser said.

The Town Council will likely take a vote on whether to approve the lease at its next meeting Monday. However, the lease won’t go into effect until the criminal case against MacEachen, who is set to stand trial in May, is complete.

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