Snowmass Base Village goes back to the bank
Aspen, CO, Colorado
ASPEN – The future ownership of the stalled Base Village project in Snowmass Village was decided in about 30 seconds Wednesday.
A foreclosure sale on the steps of the Pitkin County Courthouse in Aspen placed the project back into the hands of the mortgage holder, Hypo Real Estate Group, which has been nationalized by the German government.
There were no bids Wednesday for the project.
“This means nothing happens,” said James Pavisha, with Destination Snowmass Services Inc., and receiver of the Base Village project. “These foreclosure proceedings can be really quick, like today, or can get a little exciting, which didn’t happen today.”
The foreclosure action in Pitkin County was filed by Hypo Real Estate Capital Corp. (HRECC) of New York, a division of Hypo Real Estate Group.
It was HRECC that originally put the $520 million loan together. And it filed the foreclosure action against Base Village Owner LLC, which took out the loan.
“That was quite anticlimactic,” said Hugh Templeman, general manager of the Viceroy Snowmass luxury hotel in Base Village.
The project, whose original developers, Aspen Skiing Co. and Intrawest, began with an approval for 1 million square feet of development, fell into receivership in July 2010 through a legal action spawned by the banks, which claimed a $386 million debt on a note to the partnership, Base Village Owner LLC, controlled by Related Cos. of New York and Patrick Smith.
The Related Cos. of New York, whose Base Village Owner LLC defaulted on a $520 million loan from a division of the German Hypo Real Estate Group in April 2009, once projected it would sell 600 condos in Base Village for a total of $1.2 billion, or roughly $2 million per condo.
Vested rights on the project – which the Snowmass Town Council approved in 2004 – are due to expire in 2014. That means the unbuilt portions could be completely rethought and re-envisioned. And that’s a concept that appeals to elected officials who have heard numerous comments about a perceived imbalance in commercial property compared to other spaces in the village proper.
At full buildout, the project was expected to include the Viceroy Snowmass Hotel (which opened in November 2009), more than 600 luxury residences, a commercial plaza with retail shops, restaurants and skier services, The Treehouse (a children’s center), a conference center, underground parking, a public transit center and an aquatic center.
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To level the playing field between those who pay sales and lodging taxes on nightly rentals and those who skirt them, the city is ready to take names and make them pay.