Major polo project proposed near Catherine Store in Roaring Fork’s midvalley |

Major polo project proposed near Catherine Store in Roaring Fork’s midvalley

Crews clear the property owned by Aspen Polo Partners LLP on Thursday. The owners have applied to develop polo facilities and a residential development at the site 1/4-mile from Catherine Store.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times |


Midvalley landowners and developer Ace Lane once touted the TCI Lane Ranch as an environmentally conscious subdivision that would be a model for others to follow. It didn’t pan out.

Lane sold the 100-acre property for $7.2 million in June without building a single home.

He fully intends to accomplish with his latest project — the Tree Farm in El Jebel — what wasn’t possible at TCI Lane Ranch, according to Dave Marrs, a financial specialist on Lane’s development team. He said the inability to develop TCI Lane Ranch is no reflection on the Tree Farm’s prospects.

“They’re totally different products,” Marrs said.

TCI Lane Ranch featured 71 single-family homes and 18 duplex units. Marrs said the price point for the high-efficiency, green design homes was too high for the midvalley market. Lane built a 2,900-square-foot spec house in the neighboring Blue Creek subdivision that was a model for the houses envisioned at TCI Lane Ranch. It was listed for $1,595,000 in 2007.

Family issues eventually forced Lane to sell TCI Lane Ranch rather than continue to market it, according to Marrs. Lane owned the property with a brother, who wanted to sell for personal reasons.

Ace Lane owns the Tree Farm property with his sons. The 340 residential units approved there in June after fierce community debate are significantly smaller than what was contemplated at the ranch. They will be 1,100 square feet on average, Marrs said. They will be at a lower price point, geared toward millennials.

Lane envisions the Tree Farm as the model for green development — with efficient design and construction, alternative energy sources and the planting of thousands of trees.

Marrs said Lane fully intends to develop the project as he envisions it rather than sell the property.

“We want to see it through,” Marrs said. “This is his legacy project.”

The midvalley is on the cusp of becoming a polo mecca.

An investment group that includes the owners of the Aspen Valley Polo Club by Catherine Store recently bought another midvalley ranch and hopes to turn it into a major polo facility and residential development.

Aspen Polo Partners LLP purchased the former TCI Lane Ranch for $7.2 million in June. The partnership applied Oct. 10 to Garfield County to develop two polo fields and associated horse breeding and training facilities as well as up to 54 residential units on the 100-acre property.

The ranch is located about a quarter-mile east of Catherine Store on Old Highway 82, just west of the Waldorf School.

The plan “blends the unique facilities of a horse-breeding and training center with provisions for a compact and well-amenitized residential neighborhood, while maintaining the integrity of an important natural environment adjacent to the Roaring Fork River,” the application says.

It’s also less dense than what had been approved for the property in 2009. Former owner Ace Lane earned approval for 71 single-family houses and 18 duplex units.

The Garfield County Planning and Zoning Commission is tentatively scheduled to begin review of the Aspen Valley Polo Club planned-unit development Dec. 13. The final decision will be made by the county commissioners.

If the plan is approved, it would establish the Catherine area as premier polo grounds. Marc and Melissa Ganzi bought the former Preshana property adjacent to Catherine Store and transformed it into a polo facility in 2014. The club hosted a 12-tournament schedule last summer.

The Ganzis teamed with four other parties to purchase the Aspen Polo Partners property, according to Gary Wright, an Aspen attorney who represents the partnership. He said there might be an opportunity to integrate management of the two properties even though they are independently owned.

The new property is being eyed for two regulation-sized polo fields — something that the property by Catherine Store cannot offer. The new polo fields would be about 13 acres each. The application at the property proposes the polo fields, five barns for up to 30 horses each, stables, paddocks and a 4,800-square-foot clubhouse on the northern end of the property — closest to Highway 82. In addition, 12 residences would be blended in with the horse facilities.

On the south side of the development, the partners proposed as many as 42 residences, a community center and continued use of an existing greenhouse. Wright said there wouldn’t necessarily be 42 houses built on the south side of the property. Some owners might buy an additional lot or lots and choose to build a barn, he said, noting the property will likely be attractive to people interested in horses and polo.

The application said five affordable-housing units would be built to comply with the county land-use code. It said about 50 percent of the 100 acres would be open space. That includes a buffer between the Roaring Fork River and the nearest homes.

Lane, the former owner, received approval for 71 single-family homes and 18 duplexes in 2009. He received a series of extensions of the approvals starting in 2010, but was never able to start construction (see sidebar). The approvals expired in September.