Don’t cry for me, Cordillera
Editor’s note: In keeping with a tradition that began with Dick Hauserman’s “Inventors of Vail” and continued with Pete Seibert’s “Vail: Triumph of a Dream,” the editors of the Vail Daily are serializing Bill Clinkenbeard’s “Cordillera, From the Ground Up,” in weekly installments each Sunday. Bill can be reached at 748-0971 or via e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. On March 25, 1992, Felix Posen sent the following letter to Cordillera owners:By now you may have heard that our family corporation, JLP Realty Corp., has become the new managing partner at Cordillera. Bill Clinkenbeard has indicated a desire to shift his focus from construction, organization and management to sales and promotion. He remains a partner.As you may also know, we were pleased to receive this year all approvals for development and construction of the golf course and Western Parcel. The Vail Valley community has responded with great enthusiasm and is getting behind Cordillera I and II in a very favourable way. Because of the large number of construction projects planned, the growth of Cordillera to include additional parcels and a Hale Irwin Championship golf course, and the partners’ desire to develop the Cordillera community to its greatest potential, Bill and I have decided to hire a Project Manager to shoulder much of the responsibility for this work. As soon as I decide on one of the many talented and experienced candidates who have indicated an interest in this position, I will introduce him to you. You will see a great deal of building activity this year particularly on the Western Parcel golf course and infrastructure (roads and utilities), but also in Cordillera I where we have plans to build approximately 13 homes. I am certain this will enhance your investment and the quality of the Cordillera community. Operations at the Lodge, Restaurant Picasso and Spa have been enhanced significantly to provide an even higher level of service. We are reviewing a feasibility study for a modest expansion of our room facilities there. The entrance gate is now partially manned.
I visit Cordillera frequently and am in daily contact with personnel on site. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to telephone, fax or write. Please note I will be in the Far East from March 27 through April 13. To file or not to fileThis letter was sent without my knowledge. It was obviously done to limit any damage that my departure might cause and did not accurately reflect the tone of the partnership meeting in February or what actually occurred there. I was still a general partner and was entitled to certain operating and financial information. This was only given to me when my lawyer demanded it. And when it was given to me, I was treated as an outsider and asked to sign a secrecy agreement. I had no ongoing responsibilities at Cordillera. I was in limbo for almost three years, but getting out was not all that pleasant.In 1995, I received a letter from Michael Gilliland with a call for several million dollars as my 10 percent share of capital costs. And this was from the same person that had once told me that Felix Posen would be most happy to write me a check for my 10 percent share of the profits, if there were any. And so the final coffin nails were being pounded into place. When I didn’t come up with the millions, I was informed that my shareholding in Cordillera was now zero. My attorney, Bob Roth, said the capital call was improper but my only recourse was a lawsuit. Bob is a thoughtful and cautious attorney. He believed there would be a judgment in my favor but it would, undoubtedly, be appealed.
He cautioned that a lawsuit would tie me up for years and be of great cost. Bob pointed out that Posen had a lot more money than I did; something he didn’t need to remind me of. The statute of limitations was three years, and there was just a short time left to file. He drafted the lawsuit and told me I had to decide in two days whether or not to file. The next day I called one of my mentors, Harry Frampton, and asked if he would meet with me that same day. Harry agreed. He knew me, he knew Felix and he knew Cordillera. I went through the litany of recent events within the partnership and said I had to decide within a day whether or not to file a lawsuit. Harry was silent for a moment then said, “Bill, pick up your ball and go to the next tee.” I called my attorney and told him not to file the lawsuit.Thanks to a great crewMy Cordillera journey of nine years was over. It was a journey with a sad ending but one with many rewards. There’s a plaintive expression that goes “your rewards will come in heaven.” Well, I’m not counting on that for several reasons. There were to be no material rewards for me but I gained more important ones. In guiding Cordillera during its formative years, I saw a dream come true and a worldclass resort come to life. How many people get to follow their dreams?
More importantly, I worked with a great group of people and made many friends at Cordillera, in the Vail valley, nationally and internationally.Vail valley residents recognized, very early, the efforts of those of us who put the Cordillera project together. This was very gratifying. Brad Quayle, a well-known local resident, sent me a note in 1992 that said, “I wish you the best in your realignment and want you to know that without you, there would be no Cordillera.” That goes for all the early Cordillera workers. It goes for Jerry Rea, Les Shapiro, Terrill Knight, Debbie Duley, Don Pressley, Butch Kimmel, Manuela Payne, Donna Meyer, Bob Laak, Rosie Shearwood, Glenn Ewing, Leon Lambotte, Philippe VanCappellen, Daniel and Natalie Joly, Ann Sansbury, Stan Cope, Debra Swain, Kathy Billington, Manuel Carrillo, Moose Bosson, Don Horn, Tom Maitland, Kevin Mowder, Lori Bishop, Dashel Hooper, Alice Mayne, Ann Forsythe, Linda Flick, Gary Williams, Haran Hunter, Linda Clement, Jill Stautner, John Reed, Bruce Kendall, and many others. I think Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best, “The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.”The end.Vail, Colorado
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