Related seeks to suppress Sunrise notice of lawsuit in Snowmass property-selling case

Jill Beathard
The Aspen Times

The owner-developer of Base Village is seeking a court order that would go toward removing a legal notice on a piece of property it is trying to sell.

Sunrise Co. filed a complaint in February alleging that Snowmass Acquisition Co., the Related subsidiary now in control of Base Village, wrongfully terminated an agreement for Sunrise to purchase and develop a lot in Base Village. At the same time, Sunrise filed a “notice of lis pendens” alerting outside potential purchasers of its claims to the property.

Snowmass Acquisition is asking the court to issue an order requiring Sunrise to demonstrate why the lis pendens should not be invalidated.

A hearing is scheduled Tuesday in Pitkin County District Court. Negotiations over Base Village Lot 3 began in 2014. Snowmass Acquisition terminated the agreement in the fall, later announcing it intended to sell all of its remaining Base Village assets to Vail Valley firm East West Partners.

Those negotiations fell apart in December, and while the company says it has renewed its focus on the completion of Base Village, some members of the community believe it would still like to sell the property, pointing to the release of its other Snowmass assets (the Snowmass Center sold to Eastwood Developments Inc. in March; Related’s Mall assets have been listed with a real estate firm).

Sunrise’s suit accuses Snowmass Acquisition Co. of breach of contract, unjust enrichment and fraud, among other civil transgressions. It seeks a court decision requiring Snowmass Acquisition Co. to sell the property to Sunrise according to the conditions in the original letter of intent.

Snowmass Acquisition has responded by saying the letter of intent was non-binding and argues that the agreement could have been terminated “at any time for any reason before final transaction documents (were) executed,” according to a brief filed with the court. It is also arguing that Sunrise did not meet specific milestones set forth in their agreements.

Sunrise has said that some of the delays can be attributed to Snowmass Acquisition, and that the deal with East West went forward despite Sunrise fixing an issue that Snowmass Acquisition cited as its reason for termination.