Sardy House will light up as usual | AspenTimes.com

Sardy House will light up as usual

Charles Agar
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN “Aspen’s historic Sardy House might not change hands after all.

And, despite the financial troubles of Sardy House owner and hedge-funds mogul John Devaney of Key Biscayne, Fla., the mammoth tree on the estate’s lawn will light up for the holidays in coming weeks, as usual, he said.

Meanwhile, following a fire sale of some of his big-dollar assets, including a 142-foot yacht, Devaney still has the house on the market, but isn’t sure what he’ll do with it.

“There’s a decent chance that I’ll hang on to the house,” Devaney said Tuesday. “We’re not in a real hurry to make decisions.”

The recent shaky subprime mortgage market forced Devaney’s firm, United Capital Markets, to freeze some $620 million in assets. Forced to tighten his belt, Devaney put the Sardy House up for sale in July for $21.5 million, some $5 million more than he paid for the 16,000-square-foot home in 2006.

“My industry is prone to ups and downs,” Devaney said, adding that he “took some lumps” in 2006 and 2007.

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But business is on the mend and his companies are doing “quite well,” Devaney said.

“I was trying to be on a diet of sorts, but I very well may keep the home,” he said.

Several investors have expressed interest in the house, but nothing has panned out, he said.

“It certainly is the most charming Victorian home in the Midwest,” Devaney said. “It’s a great piece of real estate.”

He originally bought the home for family and friends and to host charity events and corporate retreats, he said.

“Some people want to see it be a restaurant,” Devaney said, and he didn’t rule out turning the Sardy House into an inn again.

“I’ve been told by a couple of people that there is enormous demand for hotel rooms in Aspen,” Devaney said, adding that the carriage house wing is designed as a midrange suite hotel.

“We would likely operate at capacity if I decided to offer the carriage house as a bed and breakfast again,” Devaney said.

Built in 1892, the Sardy House has had five owners, including Aspen visionary Tom Sardy, who ran it as a funeral parlor and hospital for some 40 years before selling it to Daniel Delano and Frank Peters in 1985.

Delano and Peters ran it as a bed-and-breakfast before selling to Devaney.

Devaney said he did not regret pouring some $250,000 into a new LED light system on the Sardy House tree last year, before the subprime-mortage industry collapsed.

“That’s peanuts. A quarter of a million dollars. That’s nothing,” he said.

Devaney, who attended Colorado State University, said he’s been visiting Aspen for years and plans to stay involved in the community.

“We love being in Aspen and we likely will continue to spend time in both the winter and summer in Aspen whether we sold the home or not,” Devaney said.

He also played down the “bon-vivant” image in recent articles about his fiscal woes.

“I’m a pretty normal guy.”

The father of three is still friends with the guys he grew up with in Key Biscayne, for example, only now and again he’s able to fly those friends somewhere like Aspen, he said.

In the meantime, Devaney said his plan is “trying to stay on a diet,” but stressed that the Aspen mansion makes up less than 10 percent of his real estate holdings.

“It’s possible that a 16- or 17,000-square-foot mansion might be more than we might need,” Devaney said.

If Devaney does sell the Sardy House, he plans to buy a less expensive home in Aspen, he said.

Charles Agar’s e-mail address is cagar@aspentimes.com.

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