Snowmass Hospitality drops non-Base Village rental contracts

Jill Beathard
The Aspen Times

Related announced Thursday that it has let go many of its property-management contracts in Snowmass Village, adding fuel to local speculation that the company is planning to exit the Snowmass market.

First Choice Properties, which will now manage 450 units in the Aspen and Snowmass area, has acquired the contracts, which Related held through Snowmass Hospitality, its property management arm. The contracts being transferred include units in Woodbridge, Snowmass Mountain Condominiums, Aspenwood, Lichenhearth and Terracehouse, said Craig Monzio, vice president of development at Related Colorado.

While that is a significant portion of Snowmass Hospitality’s business, the organization will maintain property management agreements in Base Village as well as operate the Snowmass Mountain Chalet, Snowmass Inn and the Obermeyer Homeowner Association in Aspen, according to a statement.

This summer, Related Colorado terminated some positions because of a reduction in the number of rental agreements it was managing, but Monzio said there are no additional layoffs planned at this time. Related Cos. own Base Village through a subsidiary called Snowmass Acquisition Co., and the move signals a focus on that project, the statement said.

“We remain committed to Snowmass Village, and this transaction underlines our focus on Base Village,” Monzio said. “As Jim (D’Agostino, president of Related Colorado) mentioned in the press release, Snowmass Hospitality’s long-term goal remains strengthening the Base Village and providing our owners and guests with exceptional service, luxury products and amenities.”

Nevertheless, Snowmass Village residents have been speculating since March when Dwayne Romero, then-president of Related Colorado, unexpectedly resigned, that the company’s higher-ups in New York City are planning its exit from Snowmass Village.

“I guess the proof will be in the pudding,” Mayor Markey Butler said Thursday. “But I see appearance. Appearance that that is the plan.”

During a public hearing Monday on a preliminary plan application to amend Base Village approvals, which the Town Council approved, Butler asked Monzio about a comment he had made a week prior that referenced the developer leaving after Base Village is complete. Butler pointed out that even after that project, Related still owns the Snowmass Center and much of the Snowmass Village Mall. Monzio replied by saying he was referring specifically to Snowmass Acquisition Co.

Butler next asked about how the company planned to fulfill a hotel development agreement dating back to 2007, wherein Related WestPac, a different entity that owned Base Village at the time, agreed to either build a new conference hotel in West Village or pay the town $8 million in exchange for winning approval for the Viceroy Snowmass hotel.

Monzio said Monday that Snowmass Acquisition Co. is not responsible for that obligation, but Town Attorney John Dresser contended that the entity is a successor to Base Village Owner, LLC. Base Village Owner and its successors are named with Related WestPac in the agreement.

“I don’t have the agreement in front of me, … but BVO actually still exists today,” said attorney Joe Krabacher, speaking for Snowmass Acquisition. “BVO was a subsidiary of the Related Cos.; lost title of the property in the foreclosure; came back and set up a new subsidiary, Snowmass Acquisition Co.; and bought the real estate back from the lenders. … Our view of it is that it’s not a successor. BVO still exists and has that obligation.”

Butler and Monzio agreed to return to the discussion another night.

Butler noted Thursday that many of the buildings to be constructed in the next phase of Base Village — Aspen Skiing Co.’s proposed Limelight Snowmass hotel, a vacation club by developer Sunrise Co. and now a community-purpose building to be conveyed to the town — will have owners other than Related.

“They’re going to finish the project they’ve started in Base Village, and that gives me a lot of confidence,” she said. “The detriment (if they sell the other properties) always is you don’t know what you don’t know.”