Potential sale of Snowmass Base Village terminated | AspenTimes.com

Potential sale of Snowmass Base Village terminated

Jill Beathard
The Aspen Times

Aspen Skiing Co. CEO Mike Kaplan said Thursday in Snowmass that the company second guesses its call on selling the land now home to the largely defunct Base Village development.

Related Cos. will no longer be selling its remaining assets in Base Village after negotiations in a potential sale have ceased.

Vail Valley-based developer East West Partners and private equity firm KSL Capital inked a letter of intent to purchase the stalled development from Related in early October. On Thursday, however, both parties announced the end of their negotiations.

"Over the past two-and-a-half months EWP/KSL have conducted extensive due diligence with a full team of consultants on what is a very complex set of assets," said an email from Craig Ferraro and Andy Gunion of East West Partners. "Unfortunately, EWP/KSL and Related have been unable to finalize a transaction at this time."

Related is currently applying to amend approvals for the stalled development, originally entitled in 2004. Had the company reached an agreement with East West and KSL, the deal would have been contingent on that application receiving final approval from the Snowmass Village Town Council.

At the behest of East West, Related introduced some amendments to the application when final plan review began last week. Those included a phasing change that would move construction of the Viceroy expansion from this spring to 2019 or 2020 and a request for building height variances meant to accommodate higher ceilings.

Gunion told the council that East West needed certainty in regard to the height variances in order to go forward with the deal. The council gave approval on first reading Monday to the height changes requested for Buildings 7 and 8, but for buildings east of the ski-back trail, the elected officials agreed an additional process was necessary.

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"I think East West was clear that was something very important to them," Monzio said when asked why negotiations ceased. "They said they absolutely needed it to move forward, and unfortunately council wasn't there."

Snowmass Acquisition Co., the Related subsidiary in control of Base Village, will maintain the amendments to the application, including the delay on Viceroy II, which Monzio said "makes total sense." However, the company is satisfied with the height variances granted on Buildings 7 and 8 and will seek approval of the ordinance on second reading on Monday, he said.

"The process we undertook with the Town Council and Town Staff has not only underscored that Base Village is headed in a positive direction, but has resulted in a clear, smart and buildable path forward," Monzio's email said.

Approval on Monday would mean the review meets the Dec. 21 deadline that Aspen Skiing Co. has said is imperative to it breaking ground on the Limelight Snowmass hotel in 2016.

"Our understanding is that Related is committed to completing entitlements and the Base Village as described in the Major Amendment," said Don Schuster, Skico vice president of hospitality development, in a statement. "We are happy to see that forward progress. We remain under contract with Related to acquire Lot 2 and build a Limelight and are hopeful that the Town will grant the appropriate approvals and agreements necessary to allow us to successfully build and operate the hotel.

"Ideally that will happen soon, as the process has been drawn out longer than we would have liked to get moving on the hotel in the near term and there are still several potential obstacles to overcome."

As for Snowmass Acquisition Co., approval next week would mean it will break ground on a roundabout on Brush Creek Road and begin pre-development work on buildings 7 and 8 in 2016. Those buildings were to be developed by Sunrise Co., but Related terminated that agreement a few days before East West's letter of intent was announced.

jill@snowmasssun.com