Woodbridge selling Aspen-area properties to expedite bankruptcy proceedings | AspenTimes.com

Woodbridge selling Aspen-area properties to expedite bankruptcy proceedings

Woodbridge Group of Co., the bankrupt real estate developer under federal investigation for securities fraud, is in the process of unloading commercial and residential properties in the Roaring Fork Valley to pay back its creditors.

"They all range from single-family homes in Aspen Glen or River Valley Ranch, and there are some in Snowmass," said Laura Gee, who was the managing broker of Woodbridge Realty Unlimited, an affiliate of Woodbridge, in the Roaring Fork Valley.

In the wake of the investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which led to Woodbridge's bankruptcy in Denver, Gee left Woodbridge and joined Aspen Snowmass Sotheby's International Realty as a broker associate. She also brought along what amounts to 17 listings of Woodbridge property developments in the valley, which does not include two homes that are under construction at the Pines at Owl Creek in Snowmass.

A number of commercial properties owned by Woodbridge affiliates also are for sale, including office space at the Willits development ($2.49 million), three properties in Carbondale and one in Glenwood, all of which are under contract, said Suzy Boyle, assistant to broker Lynn Kirchner of Amore Realty in Carbondale, which is handling the commercial listings in the valley for Woodbridge.

The Colorado Mountain College building on Grand Avenue in Glenwood is being advertised for $1.2 million but is not under contract.

One of Woodbridge's first priorities during its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings is to sell its roughly 130 high-end properties that are mainly in California and Colorado.

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"We are working directly with the bankruptcy court," Boyle said.

The Wall Street Journal reported April 30 that Woodbridge is trying to sell more than 130 properties worth more than $650 million.

Included among those properties is a single-family home at 1061 Two Creeks Drive in Snowmass Village. On April 10, Woodbridge moved the bankruptcy court to allow it to sell the home. The court approved the sale of the property, which Woodbridge originally bought, undeveloped, for $3.5 million in December 2014, completing a single-family home on it in late 2017. The home currently is under contract for $9.55 million; the buyers intend to acquire the property in an all-cash deal and already have put down a $500,000 deposit, according to bankruptcy documents.

"In consultation with (Woodbridge's) other advisors, I have determined that selling the property now on an 'as is' basis best maximizes the value of the property," said Bradley Sharp of Los Angeles, the chief restructuring officer of Woodbridge Group of Co., in an affidavit that's part of the bankruptcy case.

Sharp also noted that the sale price "is reasonable in comparison to comparable properties in the market in which the property is located."

Likewise, both Gee and Boyle said Woodbridge's properties in the valley aren't being sold at a significant discount to expedite the bankruptcy proceedings. The prices, however, have been adjusted because the properties weren't generating enough interest.

"I wouldn't say (the properties are being marketed) more aggressively," Boyle said. "They are all being marketed at fair-market value, where previously they were at extreme prices but never went anywhere. What happened is they reduced the prices to what they felt was a fair price, not a fire sale, but people are owed money and they're doing their best to pay those people."

The SEC has claimed that investors were cheated out of $1.2 billion through a Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Robert Shapiro, who is accused of living a lavish lifestyle through the proceeds. Shapiro, who resigned from Woodbridge in December, has denied the charges.

"(The properties) are being marketed and advertised at fair-market value because (Woodbridge's) goal is to try to pay back everybody," Gee said.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com