14 Vail, Beaver Creek luxury hotels appeal what assessor says they’re worth
July 29, 2017
EAGLE — Fourteen of Vail and Beaver Creek's high-end hoteliers insist their properties are valued incorrectly and are appealing.
Among those 14 is the Hotel Talisa, formerly the Vail Cascade, which sold for less than $90 million in December 2015. The consulting firm Duff & Phelps says it's worth around $40 million, said Eagle County Assessor Mark Chapin.
Chapin said he isn't surprised they're appealing.
"That $50 million difference makes it worth it," Chapin said.
Those 14 properties comprise most, if not all, of the high-end hotels in Vail and Beaver Creek, Chapin said.
Among the points of contention at the Hotel Talisa and other high-end hotels are the hotel's value, the residential value and the business value, Chapin said.
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"There are lots of moving parts when it comes to getting information relevant to the sale," Chapin said.
Bruce Cartwright, managing director of Duff & Phelps in Denver, said his firm doesn't talk about its clients.
"All I can tell you is that we are representing a number of hotels in the Vail Valley, which includes Beaver Creek," Cartwright said in an email.
Chapin said locally owned hotels tend to contact the assessor's office staff to work things out. Outside owners tend to hire advocates. Duff & Phelps is an independent advisor in valuation, corporate finance, disputes and investigations, compliance and regulatory matters and other governance-related issues.
Fewer appeals than expected
In all, more than 3,300 Eagle County property owners appealed what the Assessor's Office determined as the worth of their properties.
Of those, 915 Eagle County property owners appealed their valuations to the county's Board of Eaqualization. About 30 percent is standard in a reappraisal year, Chapin said.
Pitkin County Assessor Larry Fite is going to be much busier. Up to 1,600 of Pitkin County's property owners are appealing their valuations, including Aspen's Little Nell Hotel and Hotel Jerome.
In Eagle County, those appeals will go before the Board of Equalization, which decides if the Assessor's Office was correct. If the property owners do not agree with their ruling, then they have three options:
1. Appeal to the state Board of Assessment Appeals.
2. Go to binding arbitration.
3. Sue in District Court.
Eagle County's real estate is worth more now than it was before the recession. This year's countywide real estate appraisal found the market value of Eagle County's real estate jumped 11.4 percent.
A significant part of the overall increase was the number of local hotels sold in Vail, something that has not happened in many years:
• Park Hyatt, $145 million
• Four Seasons, $121 million
• Hotel Talisa, $90 million
• Vail Holiday Inn, $22.4 million
How it works
In Colorado, properties are reappraised every two years in an odd-numbered year.
The data for this year's appraisal was gathered during the 18 months between Jan. 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016.
The appraisal is based on market sales that occurred within that time and other related market information, such as rents on commercial property, Chapin said.
Residential properties are taxed at 7.2 percent of their value.
Commercial property owners will still pay at a 29 percent rate, under Colorado's tax structure.
That's because under Colorado's Gallagher Amendment, residential property taxes are limited to 45 percent of all property taxes in Colorado. Commercial and every other kind of property cover the other 55 percent.
On Friday, the state auditor reported that its analysis found the Eagle County Assessor's Office had successfully passed its state audit.