Romero Group buys Snowmass Mall for $28.5 million from Related Cos. | AspenTimes.com

Romero Group buys Snowmass Mall for $28.5 million from Related Cos.

The bulk of Snowmass' oldest commercial development, the Snowmass Mall, sold Thursday to The Romero Group for $28.5 million, according to the Pitkin County records.

The transaction marks another exit from the Snowmass market for the seller, Related Cos., which at one point wholly or partly owned property in all of Snowmass' commercial nodes: Base Village, the Snowmass Center and the mall.

Dwayne Romero, president of the Romero Group, once served in the same position at Related Colorado, which is a subsidiary of Related Cos. Romero resigned as president of Related in March of 2015 and co-founded The Romero Group property management firm in November of that year.

The Romero Group now owns 80,000 square feet of the Snowmass Mall, consisting of the shops from Fuel Cafe at the entrance to the mall to Gorsuch and Christy Sports, Romero said Thursday.

One goal in purchasing the Snowmass Mall, he said, is to improve its "physical presence, aesthetic (and) branding."

But, he added, "It's not going to be a scrape-and-replace redevelopment gig.

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"It's going to be a conscious effort to support our merchants and help them continue to grow their business plans for the benefit of our guests and our visitors."

Romero said he hopes to "further extend (the mall's) street cred to locals," and drive more foot traffic to the mall. He said it would require "a concerted, long-term effort" and would not happen overnight.

Negotiations between Related Cos. and The Romero Group started several months ago, Romero said.

Related Cos. vice president Craig Monzio declined to comment or answer questions when reached Thursday. Related Cos. acquired the Snowmass Mall in 2007, according to Romero, and he joined the company in late 2008.

Related Cos. sold its Base Village assets to KSL Capital Partners, LLC in October 2015. In April 2016, Related Cos. sold the Snowmass Center for $16 million to current owners Eastwood Snowmass Investors.

A handful of businesses on the Snowmass Mall said late Thursday they were unaware of the change in ownership, while another shop owner said he had heard "rumors" this week.

"We're excited for the change," Slow Groovin' BBQ co-owner Stephen Horner said Thursday.

The Snowmass Mall and the Snowmass ski resort stood for more than a decade before the incorporation of the town.

Designed as a progressive European-style village by architect Fritz Benedict, who was trained by Frank Lloyd Wright, the mall opened in conjunction with the ski area in 1967, according to Snowmass town records. The town of Snowmass was incorporated in 1977.

In addition to improving the development's aesthetic, increasing foot traffic and drawing in more locals, Romero said he intends to "backfill a lot of the vacancies" that exist on the mall.

"Think about the last time someone had someone advocating for the mall as a destination. It's been probably over a decade," Romero said, noting the uncertainty the mall has faced in recent years, "as a target for massive redevelopment."

erobbie@aspentimes.com