Snowmass Base Village’s status at center of lawsuit |

Snowmass Base Village’s status at center of lawsuit

Scott CondonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

SNOWMASS VILLAGE – Six buyers at the Viceroy project in Snowmass Village want their contracts voided because they claim they are separated from shops, restaurants and a vibrant ski area base by “a barren concrete and steel wasteland.”The individuals or companies filed a joint lawsuit in Pitkin County District Court last week against Related Westpac Real Estate LLC and Base Village Owners LLC (BVO). They want their purchase contracts voided by a judge.Other buyers have filed lawsuits to get out of their contracts. However, this is the first lawsuit to claim the “isolation” of the luxury property and uncertain prospects for further development of Base Village represent a drastic change of conditions since the contracts were signed.New construction on the project stalled in late 2008 when Related Westpac ran into financial trouble tied to the recession. Less than half of the project is completed. Massive concrete foundations stand like tombstones, at least temporarily.The Viceroy Condominium Hotel was one of the bright spots. It opened in November and is providing coveted short-term tourist beds this winter.But some of the buyers claim they aren’t getting what they signed for. The buyers who filed the lawsuit said they thought they were gaining interests in condominiums that were part of a critical mass of residences. The village was supposed to boast interesting amenities such as forest gardens, an aqua center and entertainment venues. There were supposed to be functional touches like a main events plaza and a convenient transit center. In short, the lawsuit said, the Viceroy is supposed to be integrated into Base Village.”Instead the Viceroy project was built as a stand alone building isolated from Phase 1A and separated by literally acres of dormant construction site,” the suit said.Buyers were told there would be pedestrian areas that would allow them to walk to Base Village’s shop and restaurants. In reality, buses are required to “traverse the abandoned construction in the middle of Base Village,” the lawsuit said.Skiers and snowboard riders are a bit better off. The condo-hotel is built slopeside with easy access to the Assay Hill chairlift. That chair connects to the Elk Camp Gondola’s mid-station, and provides access to trails leading to the heart of Base Village.The plaintiffs in the lawsuit claimed Related Westpac has engaged in “no meaningful communications” with them on the status of the project.”Plaintiffs are not informed and are pawns in the larger workings of BVO and its parent, The Related Companies Limited Partnership, and the banking and lending machinations held out of sight and sound in New York and Munich,” the lawsuit said. Financing for Base Village came from a German bank.Related Westpac spokesman Steve Alldredge said the company has no comment on litigation.The plaintiffs are Barry J. Lindahl; William C. Walter; Sean Haggerty, Katie Haggerty and John Caulfield; Sue Ann Strauss and Gerald Bodzy; Aspen Real Estate Partners, LLC; and Oscar J. Novo and the Novo Family Limited Partnership. They are being represented by Matt Ferguson of Garfield & Hecht in Aspen.Most of the parties made a deposit of 15 percent of the purchase price of their units. Aspen Real Estate Partners paid a 40 percent deposit. They want their contract voided and their deposits returned. They are also seeking damages, interest and attorneys’ fees and costs in an amount to be proven at trial.The lawsuit alleged nine causes of actions for nullifying the contracts.At least 19 other lawsuits were filed previously and separately from Monday’s

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