Aspen’s Hotel Jerome may be sold |

Aspen’s Hotel Jerome may be sold

ASPEN ” Citing frustration with the city’s red tape, a representative for the Hotel Jerome’s owners said Monday that the downtown landmark is under contract to sell in the next 30 to 60 days.

The announcement came two weeks before the hotel was set to close for a massive restoration project, expected to last eight months. Instead, the luxury hotel, which was built in 1889, will close from April 2 until May 25.

The hotel’s owners, the Gaylord family of Oklahoma, had apparently grown tired of the city’s approval process, which began shortly after they bought the hotel for $33.7 million in June 2005. In December, the Aspen City Council approved a renovation plan scaled down from the original proposal.

“We really liked the Hotel Jerome people, and we like the Aspen community, but we do business in a very old-fashioned way,” said Steve Bartolin, president and chief executive officer of the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, which the Gaylord-family-controlled Oklahoma Publishing Co. owns. “And I think that’s why, perhaps, maybe it was not a good fit.”

Bartolin, who was involved in the Hotel Jerome renovation, was in Aspen on Monday to deliver the news to the staff. The identity of the buyer was not disclosed.

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The city’s approval of the remodeling came after the owners withdrew plans for a fourth-floor addition, and it included the condition that any changes to the lodge’s historic elements get the blessing of the city’s historic preservation officer. Opponents of the renovation also worried that the owners would renege on their promise to protect the 92-room hotel’s Victorian charm and convert it to fractional ownership.

The owners insisted they wouldn’t.

Bartolin said the 113,282-square-foot building was not listed for sale, but the owners had fielded inquires from several potential suitors for the past month.

“We never really considered selling it until about a month ago,” Bartolin said. “We were involved in this for a year and a half, and since we purchased it, we really worked hard and had some great plans for the property. A lot of things started to come together simultaneously. We began getting calls from a number of different entities and businesses, so there certainly was a level of interest.”

Dick Butera, who co-owned the Hotel Jerome from 1985-89, said the owners decided to sell because “they were so beat up by the city they couldn’t take it anymore.”

“I don’t know anyone else in the United States that were going to do what they would do for Aspen,” he said

But Pitkin County Commissioner Rachel Richards, who was on City Council when it approved the renovations, said council members treated the owners with the same respect they extend to other applicants.

Aspen Correspondent Joel Stonington contributed to this report.

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