Aspen Skiing Co., partners anticipate completing purchase of Snowmass Base Village this week | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Skiing Co., partners anticipate completing purchase of Snowmass Base Village this week

Aspen Skiing Co. and two partners anticipate closing on the purchase of Snowmass Base Village this week, then reigniting construction at the dormant project in the spring.

Andy Guion, a representative of East West Partners, said Monday night the deal was supposed to be sealed Thursday.

Skico, East West Partners and an affiliate of KSL Capital Partners LLC announced in September they formed a joint venture to acquire Base Village from Snowmass Acquisition Co., an affiliate of Related Co.'s. The purchase price hasn't been disclosed.

The purchase will include all remaining development parcels in the massive project that is roughly one-third complete. It also will include all commercial spaces and the Viceroy Hotel, including the unsold condominium units within the hotel.

In addition to the real estate, the joint venture will acquire the Snowmass Hospitality property management company, according to the announcement by the partners.

East West Partners is a company based in Avon that was founded in 1986 to help develop Beaver Creek. It will head the day-to-day operations at Base Village once construction commences.

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The first phase of construction will target the Limelight Hotel, which is approved for 102 rooms and 15 residences.

Skico will purchase the Limelight and the Four Mountain Sports space from the joint venture when they are complete, the companies said this fall.

Assuming the deal is completed as planned, it will get Skico's dream of tapping Snowmass' potential back on track.

Skico bought the base area property in 1999 with visions of boosting the bed base and providing amenities that would make it more competitive in the evolving ski industry.

Aspen Skiing Co. logs roughly 1.4 million skier and snowboarder visits per season. A visit is the purchase of a full- or half-day lift ticket. Snowmass accounts for about half or slightly more of those skier visits, or between 700,000 to 800,000 per winter.

Skico's market share has been stagnant. Company officials see the greatest potential to increase its numbers at Snowmass.

The company has invested $100 million in on-mountain improvements at Snowmass over the past decade. That includes the Elk Camp Gondola, the Elk Camp Restaurant and a beginners' skiing area on that eastern pod of the mountain. It undertook a $6 million remodel of Gwyn's High Alpine Restaurant this summer.

Company officials hope an expanded bed base translates into additional skier visits and overall business for Snowmass.

"Completion of Base Village is as important, maybe more important, than it was in 2000," Skico President and CEO Mike Kaplan said at a presentation in July to update Snowmass Village residents and second homeowners about its plans.

scondon@aspentimes.com

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