Meredith Carroll: I fixed it for you, Jeff Gorsuch
Editor’s note: This is a satirical piece from columnist Meredith Carroll on what might have been said in another universe.
ASPEN, CO — March 3, 2022 — Jeff Gorsuch has a secret keeping him up at night.
“I am thrilled, relieved and anxious to finally say this out loud,” Gorsuch, the co-owner of Gorsuch LTD., a chain of luxury boutiques in Colorado and Utah, told The Aspen Times in an interview on March 2. “The hotel we’ve been developing on the west side of Aspen Mountain is finally coming to fruition, although I am heartbroken to say it will not be our group that ultimately builds it.”
In 2019 Aspen’s electorate approved a contentious ballot issue by a 26-vote margin that paved the way for the 81-room Gorsuch Haus project. The hotel was to be part of a major redevelopment at the base of Aspen Mountain’s west side that is also slated to include a new ski lift and ski museum. With coffee and warm homemade strudels in hand, Gorsuch made an unannounced visit to The Times’ East Hyman Avenue offices first thing on Wednesday morning to express concern that news of the sale might leak ahead of Friday’s closing.
“It would be disrespectful for Aspen to hear about this sale from anyone but me,” he said. “There is so much passion in this town, on this mountain, about this acre of land. I owe our community the truth; they need to hear what is happening directly from me. I staked my family’s name on this project and I would not blame anyone for spray painting the Gorsuch store windows red with ‘Liars’ if they found out about this deal in the newspapers without so much as a peep from me.”
He explained that despite his group’s strong will to see the Gorsuch Haus through to completion, global chaos prevented the project from being accomplished in a timely manner and in the way approved by voters. The pandemic, supply chain issues, worker shortages, and the high cost of borrowing money were only some of the insurmountable challenges. Gorsuch said the land that he and his partners paid $10 million for eight months ago will now change hands for more than $76 million.
“It would have been one thing to build the Gorsuch Haus pre-COVID, but the world has been rattled since then,” Gorsuch said. “You also have to take into account that I’m a retail guy at heart. To really get this built now will require a major player in the hotel industry with vast financial resources, and that is exactly who we got.”
Gorsuch declined to reveal the name of the buyer, citing a non-disclosure agreement. However, he said the new owner has deep pockets as well as a deep sense of doing right by the community.
“The new guy is a big fan of Aspen. He does not want to make a big splash but rather come to town and just be among the locals. He even reads The Aspen Times every day, religiously. He is legitimately low-key, which you would never know from his homes or how many of them there are,” Gorsuch said. “I can tell you this, though: What he has already built, especially his massive portfolio in Russia alone, will knock your lederhosen off.”
Gorsuch recognizes the final sale price will raise eyebrows. At the same time he also argues it was risky going under contract for the land in the mid-2010s knowing the contingencies, votes, approvals, entitlements and political hurdles with which they would have to contend, with no guarantees.
“It was never a lock,” Gorsuch said. “We put a lot into it and, yes, now we’re getting a lot out of it. But what we cannot ever get back is the soul we invested and that others invested on our behalf, and we acknowledge that. That is why our group is donating 10% of the sale profits to local nonprofits, because we care so deeply.”
He maintains his vision was and remains giving the west side of Aspen Mountain and those who hold it dear the upgrades it deserves. Despite having asked the public to support the Gorusch Haus, he straightened his bolo tie to make one more request that he described as “humble.”
“Let’s not let this sale further divide our beloved town. Please channel your energy into what happens in Aspen and on the mountain into something positive. I will spend the rest of my days demonstrating to Aspen how much I am indebted to the goodwill shown to me. I want to lead by example in what it means to give people your word and always do right by them.
“That’s the way the world works,” Gorsuch said. “Or if it’s not, then it should be.”