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Four Seasons update

Special to the DailyFinancing for the $250 million Four Seasons project has been "locked in" for nearly two years, the developer says.
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VAIL ” No, the Four Seasons has not lost its financing, Doug Hipskind said.

And, no, the $250 million project hasn’t stalled, he said.

“I love the Vail rumor mill,” said Hipskind, of Minnesota-based developer Black Diamond Resorts-Vail.



Financing for the project has been “locked in” for nearly two years, Hipskind said in comments earlier this week, seeking to quell speculation that the project’s financing was unstable.

A struggling economy won’t affect that financing, and the project remains under construction and on track for completion in late 2009.



Work continues on concrete, mechanical and electrical systems, plumbing and interior framing.

The building will have 120 hotel rooms, 16 condos and 19 “fractional residences,” similar to timeshares.

Hipskind acknowledged it would be much tougher to get financing for the project today as compared to January 2007, when the deal was secured.



“We actually got in at the heyday of the financing boom,” he said. “We locked in with terms that were very much borrower-favored.”

In recent months, local real estate has slowed along with the national economy. Through June, the real-estate sales volume for Eagle County was 67 percent of the previous year through the same date.

Rob Katz, CEO of Vail Resorts, expressed concern earlier this month over the real-estate-financing landscape.

“As we are all aware, the current market for real estate financing is dismal,” he wrote in an Aug. 1 letter.

The Four Seasons only had to sell six condos to get its financing. Ten remain on the market.

About 35 percent of the fractional residences have been sold. About one-fifth of those buyers come from overseas.

The Four Seasons stalled once before, in 2006, when a prospective lender backed out over rising construction costs. The project found a new lender within three months, but paperwork added another six months to the delay.

Hipskind said he thinks the ultra-luxe Four Seasons will add a lot to Vail.

“I think the whole ‘renaissance’ has certainly helped the entire village, and this will only expand on that,” he said.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.


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