Sunlight sale may be imminent | AspenTimes.com

Sunlight sale may be imminent

Dennis WebbGlenwood Springs correspondent

A deal to sell Sunlight Mountain Resort may be imminent.John Watt, managing broker with Avon-based Jerry D. Jones Real Estate, said Tuesday that a buyer may be about a week away from reaching agreement with Sunlight’s owners on a contract.”A contract which in principle is acceptable is currently in negotiation,” Watt said.Sunlight general manager Tom Jankovsky said the potential buyer is from the Southeast, and is based in more than one state. Jankovsky, who owns a stake in Sunlight, said the resort’s owners have been negotiating primarily with one person who is the head of a company.Watt said the prospective buyers plan to go forward with a real estate development at Sunlight.”Their plan is to develop the ski area and have a base village and to continue providing benefits for the town of Glenwood Springs and the schoolchildren and everything like that,” he said.Sunlight went up for sale in October 2005 for an asking price of $50 million. That figure is largely predicated on the assumption that the buyer would pursue development of the resort. Sunlight owns some 400 acres at the bottom of the resort, along with a U.S. Forest Service permit for 2,081 acres.Jankovsky said the proposed sale would not take place immediately. Instead, it would be contingent on a development proposal in front of Garfield County. A long-term master plan for Sunlight has envisioned building hundreds of residential units there.That county review likely would include scrutiny of traffic impacts on Four Mile Road and water, sewer and geological issues. A development proposal also probably would trigger public debate over what level of expansion is appropriate at a small, relatively affordable, family-oriented alternative to Colorado’s major resorts.Jankovsky said completion of the sale would be contingent on obtaining county approval to build a satisfactory number of units. In the meantime, the existing Sunlight ownership would work in partnership with the prospective new owners.Jankovsky estimated that 16 to 20 potential buyers have visited the resort. The resort was involved in serious discussions with two parties until recently, when negotiations began to focus on the one prospective buyer.Visits to the resort by possible buyers apparently have contributed to recent rumors that a sale already has been completed. But nothing’s final yet.”You can’t count on anything until someone signs on the bottom line,” Jankovsky said.However, Watt said negotiations now are focused on fine points such as earnest money.”At the moment we are looking at a contract which is pretty acceptable in all details to the owners of Sunlight. There’s some adjustment and fine-tuning to the language to be done,” he said.Watt said the new buyer would keep Jankovsky and Sunlight’s staff in place. Jankovsky has long looked forward to the injection of new financing into the resort to allow for things such as lift replacements, snowmaking and construction of a better base lodge.”I’d love to be involved in that, to see some of those improvements put in,” Jankovsky said.Sunlight has Forest Service permission to expand onto Williams Peak. But Jankovsky said that’s not immediately attractive because it doesn’t own the land at the bottom of Williams.He said there’s room to add a lot of skiing on the existing mountain before expanding to Williams. The resort offers 470 acres of skiing but has room on the mountain for 650 skiable acres, through additions such as a lift on the East Ridge and addition of more trails.The Sunlight sale would include amenities such as its snowmobile tour operation and its retail store in Glenwood Springs.Sunlight Inc., a Colorado corporation with some three dozen shareholders, about a third of them local, owns Sunlight. The resort’s principal investors each own about a third of the company. One is Leonard Lorentson, a manufacturer living in Indiana. The second is Michael Bodnar, a restaurant owner and developer in the Southeast.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.

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