Shadowrock project reignited in El Jebel after rough road in recession

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Tom Banner, the listing real estate agent for the Shadowrock project, stands in front of the luxury townhome project in El Jebel where construction recently resumed.
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times |

A luxury townhome project that twice fell victim to the recession has bounced back strong, though with units at drastically reduced prices.

The Shadowrock project in El Jebel stalled once in 2008 and again two years later when the developers ran into financial issues. A third developer owns the project now and is building eight residences and planning construction of several more.

“It’s turning out to be a much more vibrant project this time around,” said Tom Banner, a real estate agent with Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty and the listing broker for the project.

Prior to the recession, prices at Shadowrock topped out at $1.1 million. About 80 percent of sales were to second-home buyers and 20 percent to locals, said Banner, who also was the listing broker back then.

Now 80 percent of sales are to local residents — young families, people downsizing and relocating from the Aspen-area and buyers who are upgrading, Banner said. Only 20 percent of sales are to second-home buyers.

That could be a product of the pricing adjustment. The most expensive unit currently on the market is a four-bedroom, 2,593-square-foot residence with an asking price of $727,500.

The least expensive unit is a three-bedroom, 1,664-square-foot residence with a price of $485,000.

The price is about $275 per square foot, with interior finishes and appliances that Banner said are “Aspen stuff.”

“Do I think we have value? Yeah, I do,” he said.

Shadowrock is located east of the El Jebel Plaza, across Highway 82 from City Market.

While many developments ran into tough times during the recession, Shadowrock is possibly the poster child for the Lazarus project of the valley. The Eagle County Commissioners approved 100 townhomes in 2005 for landowners Kevin and Tammy Tucker. They sold to Blue Ridge Investments Inc., which constructed 30 residences and the infrastructure for additional units before they ran out of financing. They sold 24 of the units they built.

Dave Forenza, a developer from Edwards, bought the undeveloped project for $16.5 million. He also bought six unsold units, boosting the sales price to $22 million.

Observers in the real estate industry said Forenza paid too much for the project and would never recoup his investment after property values tumbled in the recession. Forenza claimed he would save on construction costs and pass the savings on to customers while still turning a profit.

He built five units — which didn’t match the architecture or floor plan of the other units — before running into financial difficulties. Forenza lender, Colorado Capital Bank in Edwards, was deemed insolvent by the Colorado Division of Banking and was closed in July 2011. Shadowrock was dead in the water.

First Citizens Bank, headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., acquired the assets of Colorado Capital, including the loan on the Shadowrock property. First Citizens Bank foreclosed on Forenza in July 2013.

Shadowrock at Aspen LLC acquired the project for just $2.8 million in winter 2014, according to Banner. The new owner is headed by a Denver businessman, who Banner said didn’t want to be identified.

The assets include 65 undeveloped townhomes and five unsold but completed units, Banner said. Shadowrock at Aspen is constructing eight units, going back to the original architectural style and layout. It will soon break ground on what is anticipated to be more lucrative units in the development — those located farther away from Highway 82 and up a hill that provides a view of the midvalley.

It’s part of a construction boom, or at least a boomlet, in the midvalley. A hotel is under construction at Willits Town Center and a handful of single-family homes are being built in the adjacent subdivision. The Park Modern condominiums also are being developed in Willits.

The Shadowrock developer will phase in the remaining units as demand warrants. “We’ll be at this, I imagine, at least two years,” Banner said.