East West, KSL to buy Snowmass Base Village | VailDaily.com

East West, KSL to buy Snowmass Base Village

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun
Aspen Skiing Co. CEO Mike Kaplan said Thursday in Snowmass that the company second guesses its call on selling the land now home to the largely defunct Base Village development.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

ASPEN — After a long and rocky road, Related Cos. exiting the Snowmass Base Village.

KSL Capital Partners LLC, a private equity firm with offices in Denver, and East West Partners, the Avon-based developer of Beaver Creek, have agreed to purchase all of Base Village except for Lot 2 from Snowmass Acquisition Co., the subsidiary of Related Cos. that acquired the stalled development in 2012. The agreement is contingent on the Snowmass Village Town Council’s final approval of amendments to current plans for the stalled project.

Snowmass Acquisition Co. purchased the assets in 2012 for $90 million, nearly half of the $169 million that Related Cos. and another partner paid for the property in 2007. Related didn’t release the amount of the pending transaction Tuesday.

Snowmass Acquisition Co. will continue to act as the applicant, and Jim D’Agostino, president of Related Colorado, said on Tuesday that it doesn’t intend to alter the application.

“There are no proposed changes to the application or the timeline to submit the application, which is on schedule to be submitted later this month,” D’Agostino said. “The goal is for approval by the end of the year so construction can start next spring.”

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East West and KSL will assume the role of Base Village master developer and will oversee development of the rest of the project, which includes the next phase of the Viceroy Snowmass and Lot 3, according to a statement. The purchase includes unsold units in the Viceroy and the rental management agreements and homeowners associations of Base Village.

Lot 2 will still be developed by Aspen Skiing Co., which has plans for a lodge modeled after its Limelight Hotel in Aspen.

“At present, we intend to proceed as planned with closing on the purchase of Lot 2 in the coming months and starting construction of Limelight Snowmass in the spring of 2016, assuming the final approvals are granted by the town of Snowmass Village prior to the end of December 2015,” said Mike Kaplan, CEO of Skico, on Tuesday.

‘Solid developer’

The Snowmass Village Town Council approved Snowmass Acquisition Co.’s preliminary plan application with the amendments for Base Village on Sept. 28. A few short days later, they learned about the termination of the agreement with Sunrise, a development partner, before the announcement of the ownership change, which gave some of them pause about what that meant for the project.

“I feel like when we approved the process knowing that Sunrise was building those buildings and having the confidence we do in their product and that they’re local … was very reassuring,” said Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk. “There’s a lot of information we don’t have.”

But on Tuesday, Mayor Markey Butler, who had instructed town staff on Monday to find out more, said she felt reassured having more information and expressed her confidence in East West Partners. Butler organized a council tour of Beaver Creek led by Harry Frampton, founder of East West Partners, in July, which representatives of Related attended.

“We’ve got a really good solid developer now,” Butler said on Tuesday. “Frampton knows how to do ski mountain resort communities, and he is a very highly revered individual throughout the Vail Valley and he’s known internationally.”

Partners since 2011

East West Partners has looked at getting involved in Base Village twice before — once in 2001 when Aspen Skiing Co. was courting partners and again when the property was in foreclosure and controlled by banks, said managing partner Craig Ferraro, who was chief financial officer of Aspen Skiing Co. before joining East West Partners in 2000, according to the company’s website.

“We’ve had various discussions with Related about potentially being involved with Base Village in some capacity,” Ferraro said. “Those more recently moved to another level, especially as the (amendment application) was starting to make its way through Town Council.”

Having town approval of that application “takes at least one uncertainty off the table,” Ferraro said. Snowmass Acquisition Co. still hopes to gain that approval this December so that new construction can begin next spring, D’Agostino said.

While East West has never developed in the Roaring Fork Valley, it has managed properties locally through its luxury homes division in the past, Ferraro said. In addition to Beaver Creek, East West Partners has developed in Deer Valley, Lake Tahoe and Summit County. Its portfolio also includes projects in Denver, Charleston, S.C., and Kauai, Hawaii.

East West and KSL have had a partnership since 2011 and are currently working together on the completion of Empire Mountain Village in Deer Valley, according to a statement.

“KSL and East West are uniquely experienced and capable of successfully bringing Base Village to its final phase,” D’Agostino said. “They have a combined 50-year history of developing/investing in travel and leisure businesses. … We are confident that the partnership will seamlessly step into our role as master developer and will deliver the multiseason, best-in-class resort experience we have all long envisioned and worked so hard to achieve.”

KSL’s chairman Mike Shannon was president and CEO of Vail Associates from 1986 to 1992.

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