Viceroy Snowmass buyers released from contracts |

Viceroy Snowmass buyers released from contracts

Madeleine OsbergerSnowmass SunAspen, CO Colorado
viceroyhotelsandresorts.comSome buyers of condominiums at the Viceroy Snowmass will be able to terminate their purchase agreements, a judge ruled Tuesday.

SNOWMASS VILLAGE – Purchasers of Viceroy Snowmass units will get their deposits back and be able to terminate purchase agreements because of a decision rendered Tuesday by Pitkin County District Court Judge Denise Kay Lynch.The judge’s ruling affects 65 buyers of condominium units ranging in size from studios to four bedrooms. Matt Ferguson of the Aspen firm Garfield & Hecht is the lead attorney representing the plaintiffs. Judge Lynch reversed her original decision as the plaintiffs’ attorneys maintained that the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act applied to this case.At issue was the discrepancy of square footage size of each buyer’s purchase agreement as compared to the actual, constructed square footage of the Viceroy units.Plaintiffs maintained they were on the hook for between $7 and $8 million in lost square footage because of the plat discrepancies.”Today was the decision we’ve been looking for, for a year and a half. This wasn’t a surprise to me,” said Ferguson. “What was a surprise was that the receiver (Lowe Enterprises) said we had ‘zero’ chance of winning.”Last summer, the attorneys said they had negotiated a settlement with Base Village Operator, the development group that included Related Cos, according to Ferguson.He said the subsequent involvement of the receiver prompted the bank group led by Hypo to “relook” at the settlement agreement.A settlement proposal from December would have provided them with termination of their contracts and their deposits. That was scuttled, which led to a decision that could prove much more costly, given mounting lawyer fees.”We’ve got $1.5 million in attorney fees in hand. Now we need to find someone to pay for it,” Ferguson said, in reference to the now disbanded Related WestPac partnership. However, parent company Related Cos is still operating out of New York.Receiver Jim DeFrancia said he could not comment on the judge’s decision as neither he nor the firm’s attorneys had time to review the proceedings.It’s also not clear if this will affect the foreclosure sale, which is tentatively scheduled for later this month.The Viceroy units in question have been placed in a rental pool and have been used this season. The contract holders are now interested in collecting those dollars, said Ferguson.”We always thought we should be out of those contracts. Though we clearly want the rents,” he said.Moreover, should the losing party contest the decision, it’s possible the attorneys will attempt to collect what are know as “treble” damages, which could amount to three times the attorney fees, or some $45