Wanted: One king looking to preserve castle | AspenTimes.com

Wanted: One king looking to preserve castle

The Redstone Historical Society is actively working with the Internal Revenue Service to find a buyer for the century-old Redstone Castle who will preserve the historic structure.And the Aspen Historical Society might be interested in collaborating with Redstone for a potential tax proposition to help with the castle’s skyrocketing maintenance costs.Pitkin County Commissioner Shellie Roy, who also serves as a trustee for the Aspen Historical Society, said Tuesday that the buildings owned by the society might be best served by a mil levy tax on homeowners – ideally including the Redstone Castle.”If we have success in buying the castle, why not ask voters for the minimum amount for maintenance costs?” Roy said.The Aspen Historical Society already has trouble maintaining the headquarters at the Wheeler/Stallard Museum, the Holden/Marolt Mining and Ranching Museum, and the ghost towns of Independence and Ashcroft, Roy said.If the Redstone Castle were on that list of properties to keep up, voters might be more likely to agree to a property tax, she said. Roy estimates that it would take $14.56 per $1 million of assessed value on each home to generate the roughly $300,000 per year for maintenance costs.And if a buyer does not come forward for the property, Roy said she would support a bond so that the county could buy the castle. It would be just under $30 per $1 million of assessed value on each home to generate the castle’s last purchase price of $6 million, she said.”The reason I strongly support the community in stepping up to the plate is because these issues just keep surfacing with no solution out there,” Roy said. “In the last 20 years with the castle we thought we were going to lose it, and then someone steps up again and again.”As a member of the community I’m saying this is valuable to me, and I’m willing to tax myself to make sure we have a continuum of our history.”But in the meantime, Redstone Historical Society President Darrell Munsell said the organization has been working with the IRS to find a private buyer with historic preservation interests at heart.”We have published a statement of what the Redstone Historical Society would like to see happen with the property, and invited interested people who might be willing to invest in the property or to buy the property to contact us or, of course, the IRS,” Munsell said.”We want a buyer who would be willing to accept preservation easements on the property – interior and exterior so it stays historical, and not turned into apartments.”The Redstone Castle was built at the turn of the 20th century by coal magnate John Osgood, who created the town of Redstone for his coal miners and their families. But in recent years the castle has bounced between various owners, finally being purchased in 2000 for $6 million by Leon and Debbie Harte.But the 148-acre estate and its 42-room, 27,000-square-foot mansion was seized by the IRS in 2003, when the Hartes became the subject of a fraud investigation. Federal agents believe that Leon Harte bilked investors in Colorado, while the Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into allegations that Harte bought the castle after a similar scheme in Florida.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com

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