Hard-to-develop Edwards land went for $9.5M | VailDaily.com

Hard-to-develop Edwards land went for $9.5M

Chris Outcalt
Edwards, CO Colorado
A handful of owners of the 'Overlook' land north of Edwards, Colorado have not been able to develop it

EDWARDS, Colorado ” A Florida-based investment company paid $9.5 million last year for a 680-acre piece of land north of Edwards, Colorado and has told the Forest Service it plans to do what a handful of other owners haven’t ” develop the land.

The horseshoe-shaped parcel to the northwest of Berry Creek Road was purchased for $100,000 in 1994. More than a decade later a group called CR Nevada Associates LLC bought the spot ” which is surrounded by public land and often refereed to as the Overlook parcel ” for $5.8 million.

The company considered building on the spot or swapping it for a different piece of land, but the talks never amounted to much, said Brian Lloyd, district ranger for the U.S. Forest Service.

“It was all talk,” Lloyd said. “It never really got beyond the talking stages.”

In March of last year, CR Nevada Associates sold the land for $9.5 million dollars to Berlaimont Estates, LLC, which is owned by the Florida company, Cimex Invest Inc.

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And the new owner plans to develop the land, Lloyd said.

“These folks do seem to be serious about doing something,” he said.

Lloyd has never met the new owners of the property. The Forest Service was contacted by Michael English, a local representative for Florida company this summer. English told the Forest Service the owner wanted to develop the land into 19, 35-acre lots, according to Lloyd.

Neither English nor the property owner returned calls Thursday.

The company also proposed the construction of a paved, two-lane road through the White River National Forest in order to access the property.

An initial public comment period on the proposed road is over. The Forest Service is studying what environmental impact a road would have on the area and will gather more public input when the report is finished in a few months.

Wally Carey, president of the Cordillera Valley Club, has watched three different owners try to develop the Overlook parcel. He’s opposed every one.

“We’re not against development of private property, but we’re against somebody putting nine miles of road to get to it,” Carey said.

The Valley Club was approached by CR Nevada to be part of a land swap that would have made the Overlook property public land. The discussions never amounted to much, though, Carey said.

“There were some informal conversations,” he said.

Carey thinks that nothing happened with the land because the owners couldn’t find a cost effective way to develop it.

“Now here we sit ” same property, same issues,” Carey said. “If it wasn’t attractive at a $5 million basis, it’s certainly not attractive at a $9 million basis.”

Cindy Cohagen, of the Eagle Valley Land Trust, has approached every owner of the Overlook site to try and find an alternative to developing the land. She hasn’t been able to contact the new owners.

“We’ve attempted to introduce ourselves,” Cohagen said. “We’ve never been able to get through the whole chain to get any person that can help us.”

Because the spot is completely surrounded by public land, it makes sense to keep it undeveloped, she said.

“It’s part of an entire panorama of open space,” Cohagen said. “That whole portion of the forest ” the public benefit and wildlife habitat ” is very special and important.”

Around the same time the Florida company purchased the Overlook land, it also paid $6.5 million for a defunct ski resort in Taos, N.M. called Ski Rio.

The Taos News reported Jana Sobotova of Cimex Invest Inc., as the buyer of the resort. Pavel Lukes, the Toas real estate agent that handled the Ski Rio deal, told the newspaper he met Jana Sobotova in Vail.

Lukes didn’t return calls Thursday.

The difficulty in developing the Overlook site is what has kept it open land for the last decade, Lloyd said.

“If it was easy to develop it would have been developed,” he said. “I can’t imagine it’s a cheap endeavor.”

Staff Writer Chris Outcalt can be reached at 970-748-2931 or coutcalt@vaildaily.com.

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