Secret list of preferred buyers in Base Village to be culled today
An intense yet quiet feeding frenzy has developed over the 90 Base Village residential units for sale in the project’s first phase of development. Three days after Snowmass Village residents approved the project on Feb. 3, interested buyers began making reservations – which required a $10,000 down payment – for the available units.At one point, more than 800 names were on the list, according to Michael O’Connor, vice president of development for Intrawest, which is building Base Village with the Aspen Skiing Co. Sources claim that list has been narrowed to about 500, but O’Connor could not confirm that figure on Monday. Today, the chosen 90 will be revealed by Intrawest – not through a lottery, but a selection process. Intrawest has spent the last two months going through the names of prospective owners and narrowing the list down to the ideal candidates. Top priority goes to Snowmass Village homeowners and those who own units in other Intrawest developments in resorts like Squaw Valley and Whistler. Another major factor includes the prospective owner’s willingness to place the unit in the rental pool. “By law in the U.S. you cannot force people into the rental pool. You can in Canada, but not here,” O’Conner said.”The whole basis of this project is to create hot beds … so our intention here is to motivate people to put these units into the rental pool.”But the selection process has frustrated several hopeful owners, according to an individual intimately familiar with the sales process who spoke to the Times on the condition of anonymity. “It’s been completely confusing – the packages, all the different floor plans, nobody knows what the end price is going to be,” the source said. “And the biggest weirdness is how they’re going to determine who gets what pick.”There’s just a lot of confusion and not a lot of information.” The media has also been given the runaround. Between Intrawest and the Skico, only O’Connor is allowed to speak about the selection process, and he’s been reluctant to say much until this week. Several local real estate brokers refused to comment on the issue. O’Connor denied the assertion that the process has been intentionally kept under wraps. “Our goal is to get the right people here and get them in the unit they want,” he said. “You do that by limiting certain aspects of information … and the salespeople are trying to manage over 800 prospects, they’re extremely busy.”It’s not that people are paranoid to talk about things, it’s just the way we operate. We like to get people here and that’s what we’re doing right now – getting their responses and selections.” The anonymous source wonders if Intrawest is “just winging it.” “Or they just have such sheer numbers and the only way to pare it down is make [the process] real difficult,” the source said. Whatever the case, “it’s been so poorly communicated.” As for giving Snowmass Village homeowners priority, O’Connor said it’s a way to keep the development well grounded in the community. “I think it’s important that we take care of the local community first, and preferred buyers from Intrawest we also feel deserve some priority status,” he said. “Nine times out of 10 [Intrawest owners] are multiple purchasers, and nine times out of 10 they put their units in a rental pool.” Owners will be allowed to occupy their unit for as long as they wish, not just three weeks a year, as was initially reported last fall. And the owners do not have to place their unit in the rental pool when it is not occupied. As reported by the Snowmass Sun last month, and confirmed by O’Connor on Monday, the first phase of residential development includes two studios, 35 one bedrooms, 34 two bedrooms, 18 three bedrooms and one four-bedroom unit. The studios are priced at $479,000, while the three-bedroom units could breach $3 million. The price of the four-bedroom unit has not been determined.Each prospective buyer lists a top choice and fallbacks, and Intrawest will decide who is the best fit for each unit and who will have to wait for the next phase.An additional 520 residential units will be sold in future phases. Steve Benson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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