Lodge at Cordillera can sell, federal judge rules, but legal battle continues | VailDaily.com

Lodge at Cordillera can sell, federal judge rules, but legal battle continues

EDWARDS — A federal judge refused to postpone this month's scheduled sale of The Lodge & Spa at Cordillera, but attorneys for Cordillera residents say that does not mean construction can begin on an $80 million plan to convert the hotel into a health, wellness and addiction treatment center.

Federal District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson brought court into session at 1:29 p.m. last Thursday, and handed down his order from the bench at 5:10 p.m., denying a request by four Cordillera residents to stop the sale.

Behringer Harvard, an Austin, Texas-based development company, is scheduled to sell The Lodge to Noah Nordheimer's Concerted Care Group, a Baltimore-based addiction treatment business on Feb. 28.

"With no other legal challenges that can block the closing, The Lodge can close its doors on Feb. 28 and be sold to CCG Management," said Nordheimer, president and CEO of the Concerted Care Group.

Legal fight to continue

The legal case remains very much alive, said Tom Wilner, a Washington, D.C., attorney who heads the residents' legal committee. Wilner went to court with the federal government when he represented 11 Kuwaiti prisoners held in the Guantanamo Bay detention center at the U.S. Navy base in eastern Cuba.

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After Nordheimer's Concerted Care Group said it would close the sale of The Lodge & Spa at Cordillera Feb. 28, four Cordillera residents returned fire with a $100 million class action lawsuit led by Wilner.

"Judge Jackson suggested there is a way to resolve our differences that accomplishes both our goals. If the planned rehabilitation center at The Lodge will continue to allow Cordillera residents to have access to the facility and its amenities, then we certainly have something to discuss," Wilner said in a statement.

Nordheimer said he looks forward to those discussions.

"The bright spot from this wasn't our victory in federal court. It was the willingness of Tom Wilner to commit to working together to resolve our differences so we can co-exist in Cordillera — that's the real victory," Nordheimer said. "I am confident Tom is the right person to help bring the groups together and begin healing this community."

Wilner said Jackson's ruling does not mean construction can begin when the sale closes.

In a notice to Cordillera homeowners, Wilner wrote that, "essentially, the judge found that the passing of title from Behringer Harvard to the Concerted Care Group does not, by itself, cause irreparable injury that would justify the entry of a preliminary injunction."

"Acquiring title to the property, of course, does not give the Concerted Care Group the right to eliminate The Lodge and convert it into a medical center that excludes the Cordillera community," Wilner wrote. "Its right to do so remains under challenge in both the state court in Eagle County and the federal court in Denver. We shall continue to pursue those challenges aggressively, and we remain confident of ultimately prevailing on the merits of our claims."

Local District Court appeals

The federal court case comes on the heels of a pair of lawsuits filed in local district court, appealing a 2016 unanimous decision by the Eagle County Board of County Commissioners to allow Nordheimer to move ahead with his plan.

Cordillera's property owners association and metro district were not part of the class action lawsuit. However, those groups sued Eagle County and the commissioners, asking District Court Judge Fred Gannett to throw out the commissioners' decision.

Cordillera homeowners Barbara and Jack Benson sued Eagle County separately.

The association and other plaintiffs want:

• The county commissioners' decision overturned, and

• Damages, costs, reasonable attorneys' fees and "any other relief that the court may deem just."

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.