Skico owners buy part of NYC icon |

Skico owners buy part of NYC icon

Aspen Times Staff Report

The Aspen Skiing Co., which includes the posh Little Nell hotel and the Snowmass Club, is a sparkling corporate trophy, especially when it gleams under holiday lights. It pales, however, in comparison with New York’s Rockefeller Center.

But now the Crown family of Chicago, owners of the Skico, can bask in the ownership of both.

Under a deal to be finalized in the spring, the Lester Crown family is teaming with Jerry I. Speyer of the Tishman Speyer real estate company to buy the famed 22-acre American landmark for $1.85 billion.

The cluster of 10 office buildings and eight million square feet that make up Rockefeller Center is between Fifth Avenue and the Avenue of Americas and 48th Street and 51st Street in Manhattan. Built during the Depression by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., The New York Times called the center “an international symbol of commerce and capitalism.” It’s the home of Radio City Music Hall and the Rainbow Room.

The Crown family, estimated by Forbes magazine to have a fortune worth $2.8 billion, already has a stake in another prized symbol of New York, the Yankees baseball team. The family also owns the Chicago Bulls basketball team and 16.5 million shares of defense contractor General Dynamics.

The Crowns bought out former Skico owner Marvin Davis and his partners in the early 1990s to gain full control of the privately held ski company.

The purchase of Rockefeller Center by the Crowns and Speyer caught many in New York’s real estate game by surprise. The Center has been up for auction by owner Goldman Sachs for most of the year, and the asking price was thought to be as much as $2.5 billion.

“We had no intention of having anything to do with this purchase,” Speyer told The New York Times. “It was only in the last couple of days that we thought that the price was so compelling. On Wednesday morning, we talked to our partners, saying we were prepared to pay more.”

Both Speyer and the Crowns were already involved with the Center. The Tishman Speyer company has been managing Rockefeller Center for the past four years and, together with the Crowns, owned 5 percent of the building.

Skico CEO Pat O’Donnell declined to comment on whether the purchase of Rockefeller Center would have any effect on planned capital improvements across the Skico’s four mountains.

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