Marolt: Good grief over Lift One | AspenTimes.com

Marolt: Good grief over Lift One

Roger Marolt
Roger This

Dear Roger,

I am dogged by the ongoing drama about the fate of the Lift 1A development that is ending up ephemeral as Pig Pen’s dust cloud. I think Aspen Skiing Co. ought to buy the entire project from the feuding developers and finish it themselves. They have kilotons of money backing them. Why not buy the hands that could feed them?

Snoopy

Dear Snoops,

Good grief! Undoubtedly you know the strategy of the Red Baron — to attack his enemies with the sun at his back. They are blinded while becoming brightly illuminated targets to him. Thus positioned, with one easy shot, he reduces foes into harmless smoking holes in the ground. This is basically what just happened in the Lift 1A project.

To answer your question very directly — nobody in their right mind would invest in the Lift 1A project now. And, it’s not because things are spinning completely out of control, as many assume.

No, in this case appearances are deceiving. Far from being the utter chaos it looks to have devolved into, this outcome appears to be so cunningly staged that one might consider it brilliant or baleful, depending on whether o you believe in The Great Pumpkin.

I do not know if they are related to Charlie, but I do know the Brown brothers have learned a trick from one Lucille van Pelt. They have yanked the football away from Gorsuch Haus just as the winning field goal was about to be booted in a beautiful rainbow arc through the uprights and into a pot of gold.

The Browns said they lost faith in Gorsuch’s ability to complete their part of the project under the three-point deal they both signed along with the citizens of Aspen. Mind you, no evidence of what led them to this conclusion has been produced. Yet, they have abandoned the hyped-up renaissance of the Base of 1A and reverted to their original date-worn and dreary plan to build timeshares there instead. They claim the old plan is less risky, although they haven’t turned so much as a shovel full of dirt on it since approval was granted in 2011. Something stinks, and it is not a freshly opened can of Alpo.

The Browns ended up with two alternatives after the approval process, which they have leveraged to now control the entire project. If the new Plan B didn’t go their way, they could revert to Plan A, which they just did. Do you see it? The city and Gorsuch are at their mercy. It is why nobody will invest good money in the other half of the project.

To put money into the Gorsuch half of this deal right now would be to say, “I accept the fact that the Browns may do their timeshare project instead, leaving me stranded alone on Norway Island, there may be an extension of the lift down to Dean Street, and there may be a new ski museum, skier service center, coordinated transportation plan, any cooperation on parking mitigation or locals’ apres ski drink specials.” Skico is smarter than to get into something this uncertain, and so is every other hotelier with pockets deeper than the Browns’ trustworthiness.

“Ifs” and “buts” are not new lifts and deals cut. Hey, Ritz Carlton, are you interested in investing millions in half a project obfuscated in this haze? How about you, Four Seasons Hotel? Does anyone have Paris Hilton’s cell number?

The Browns withdrew and the value of Gorsuch’s stake cratered. Nobody wants a piece of that action except at a discount steeper than the top of Corkscrew Gully. The Brown brothers can scare off all potential money backers for Gorsuch with their threat to pull out and then swoop back in to pick up that diminished half of the project for — forgive me please — peanuts. A handy profit is to be made.

If this setup has occurred innocently and by accident without forethought, then I am the genius who spotted the opportunity and the Brown brothers are bumbling fools about to get rich on dumb luck. In other words — not likely.

It would be fair to call this turn of events dastardly, If only in its planning and execution. Yet, what is sinister is that they have thrown Gorsuch under the big yellow school bus in order to bring it to a skidding halt so they can now scram through the intersection with a handful of other kids’ lunch money.

I hope this makes it clear, dear Snoopy; if you intend to fly your Sopwith Camel in a dogfight with those not afraid to fight dirty, don’t forget your Joe Cool shades to block the sun’s blinding rays. Keep in mind, also, you are only piloting a dog house. Rats!

Roger Marolt is looking for Linus to wrap his blue blanket around the base of 1A to prop it up and make it look beautiful. Email roger@maroltllp.com.


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