New buyer for the Crystal Palace |

New buyer for the Crystal Palace

Rick Carroll
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Snowmass Base Village proprietor Pat Smith is poised to buy the Crystal Palace building after outbidding another developer for the Aspen landmark, the dinner theater’s owner confirmed Monday.

Smith, whose Related WestPac firm is developing the Base Village at Snowmass, is scheduled to complete the due-dilligence phase of the transaction on Sept. 7, said Mead Metcalf, who has owned the building and business for 51 years.

“That’s when the money will go hard,” Metcalf said.

The deal comes after Greg Hills, a principal with the Austin Lawrence Partners development firm, originally had the building under contract to buy for $15 million. But when Hills reduced the bid amount in July, Smith trumped the offer and Metcalf accepted.

“Greg Hills came back with a negotiated price of $13 million,” said Metcalf, “and Pat Smith came back with a better offer.”

Metcalf declined to reveal the amount of Smith’s bid.

Hills would not comment on why the deal went south; he merely confirmed that it simply did not work out.

Smith’s Aspen attorney, Joseph Krabacher, said Monday that the transaction is expected to close in October. Less clear, said Krabacher, is what’s in store for the Hyman Avenue building.

“(Smith) doesn’t has fully developed plans on what to do with it,” Krabacher said.

Smith’s acquisition of the Crystal Palace building would mark the latest in a string of property purchases that began last year, when the joint venture known as Related WestPac bought the now-under-construction Base Village property for $165 million from developers Intrawest Corp. and the Aspen Skiing Co.

The crown jewel of Smith’s local-property portfolio, Base Village has approval for 1 million square feet of residential and commercial space in Snowmass Village. The project, which is currently under construction, is scheduled for completion in 2011.

Among Smith’s other acquisitions are the $9.9. million purchase of the North Star building on Main Street in Aspen in January, as well as the $22.5 million buyout of the Snowmass Mountain Chalet in April.

“Pat has made a lot of investments here, and it’s because he’s very bullish on the long-term prospects in the Aspen-Snowmass market,” Krabacher said.

Metcalf, in the meantime, is hopeful the Crystal Palace will remain a dinner theater in some capacity at its 300 E. Hyman Ave. address.

The historic Crystal Palace building, constructed in 1886, has a total area of 12,650 square feet, according to records at the Pitkin County Assessor’s Office. It is under the ownership of Crystal Palace Corp., which Metcalf controls. It has an assessed value of $1.7 million, and its property taxes in 2006 were $36,628, public records show.

Now 75, Metcalf, who still plays piano and sings at the theater on a nightly basis, said he plans to retire and move to Crested Butte, where he has bought a house.

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