Past, present Enron execs own land on Shady Lane | AspenTimes.com

Past, present Enron execs own land on Shady Lane

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The connection between Enron and Aspen goes beyond the company’s former CEO and chairman, Ken Lay, who owns three homes and a prime building lot here.

John Duncan, a current member of Enron’s board of directors, owns a home on Shady Lane, two doors down from Lay.

Thomas White, the secretary of the Army and former vice chairman of Enron Energy Services, a subsidiary, owns two ski-in, ski-out homes in Aspen, one at the base of Highlands and the other at the base of the Tiehack side of Buttermilk.

John B. Wing, the former head of Enron Europe who helped Enron build power plants around the world, has a luxury home across the street from White at the base of Tiehack.

Richard Kinder, a former president and chief operating officer of Enron and now chairman and CEO of Kinder Morgan, owns a home along the Roaring Fork River across from Aspen Village.

And international developer Gerald Hines, whose company built the Highlands Village, also has an Enron connection.

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In addition to being Lay’s next-door neighbor on Shady Lane, Hines’ company just finished the new 40-story Enron Center building in downtown Houston, which may now never be home to any Enron employees.

Lay has put his four local properties on the market, including his 3,015-square-foot Shady Lane residence, which he has owned since 1991. He and his wife, Linda, also own two homes in the Oklahoma Flats section of Aspen, which is along the Roaring Fork and a short walk from Shady Lane.

One home was purchased in 1999 for $4.8 million; the other was bought in August 2000 for $6.1 million, according to the Pitkin County assessor’s office. The second and third homes were to be used by the Lay’s five grown children and their families. The Lays’ son, Mark, was married in Aspen in 1997.

The homes have been on the market since November for $6.8 million and $6.5 million. And perhaps with good reason. According to records at the Pitkin County clerk and recorder’s office, the Lays are paying down loans on the two Oklahoma Flats homes at the rate of $36,429 and $28,217 a month.

The Lays’ fourth property, a lot, is close to the other homes with a view of Aspen Mountain and is on the market for $2.9 million. In all, the Lays’ real estate in Aspen could fetch almost $20 million. Their other properties in Houston and Galveston are on the market at $30 million.

And Lay is not the only former Enron executive to have a recently purchased Aspen home on the market.

White, 58, bought a 5,360-square-foot townhome in Highlands Village in June 2000 for $3.5 million. Four months later, White bought an 8,735-square-foot home for $7.7 million at the base of Tiehack. The home is at the base of the ski area and along the golf course run by the private Maroon Creek Club. It is now listed for sale at $7.25 million.

White joined Enron in 1990 and served as CEO of four Enron units, including Enron Power Corp., Enron Operations Corp., Enron Ventures Corp. and the Enron Engineering and Construction Co. Before joining the Bush administration in May, he ran the Enron unit responsible for retail energy marketing. He sold his Enron stock at the time for $12 million, according to the Washington Post.

White’s neighbor at the base of Tiehack is Wing, who worked closely with Enron in varying capacities since 1985.

According to published reports, Lay hired Wing to help Enron build power plants in 1986. Wing served as the chairman of Enron Europe and also formed the Wing Group, which developed power plants around the world with Enron often as a partner.

He ran the Wing Group from offices in Aspen, Houston and Beijing throughout the 1990s.

Duncan, Lay’s Shady Lane neighbor and a member of Enron’s board of directors, is the former chairman of Gulf and Western Industries Inc.

He owns a 6,578-square-foot home on Shady Lane and a deed-restricted employee condo near Hunter Creek. And Duncan is close to another prominent executive from Houston, Hines. He’s known Hines since 1961 and once told the Denver Post that “Gerry’s got that folksy, little-boy attitude. Everybody wants to cuddle up and do a deal with him.”

Kinder, who was Enron’s president and chief operating officer from 1990 to 1996, also has close ties to Aspen, if for no other reason than locals write checks each month to KN Energy to pay their utility bills. Kinder’s company, Kinder Morgan, merged with KN Energy two years ago.

And Kinder has also invested in the Aspen community, paying $9.4 million in 1999 for an estate along the river across Highway 82 from Aspen Village.

For Houston-based Hines, Lay is a neighbor in both Aspen and Galveston, where they each have beach homes. And Lay is a customer, as Hines’ company just completed the Enron Center building, which has 1.6 million square feet of office space and one floor specially designed for Enron executives.

And there is one other connection between Enron and Hines. Enron was the recipient of the Gerald Hines Corporate Award at a Houston-area Urban League event in 2000.