Third reprieve granted on empty Avon land |

Third reprieve granted on empty Avon land

Cliff Thompson
Bret Hartman/Vail DailyThe building permit expired Monday for The Gates project at the entrance to Beaver Creek in Avon. The project has had a checkered past since it was first proposed in 1997 as Chateau St. Clair.

AVON – After chastising a developer for failing to start building a $50 million project prior to the expiration of his building permit Monday, and accepting a non-refundable $250,000 performance bond, the Avon Town Council Tuesday night gave the developer another five months to make dirt fly.”I was disappointed that you failed to recognize the deadline,” said Councilwoman Tamara Nottingham-Underwood to developer Tim Barton of CSC Land and JMJ Development of Dallas, Rotterdam and Monterey, Calif. “It was clear to us.”Barton, who is trying to build the “Gates” complex on an empty lot along Highway 6 just east of the Beaver Creek roundabout, told the council that clearing a lawsuit filed by an early investor in the troubled project, which is in its third incarnation, had delayed a construction loan. When completed some 18 months from now, the Gates building will be five stories tall and will contain 49 luxury residences and some timeshare units, a spa, library and two stories of underground parking, Barton said. “This project has had a long, difficult history,” Barton said. “It’s more than we thought we’d have to go through to build in this community.”

Barton said his development company, which has developed luxury resort properties in the United States, Mexico and South America, has “never failed in our commitment.” He offered the town the performance bond and the town extended the project’s permit for the third time. Chateau not thereFirst proposed in 1997 as Chateau St. Clair, the project ran into financial difficulties that left it partially excavated. It experienced a brief revitalization three summers ago as the Geneva Crown Club, but again bumped into financial issues. Barton’s company purchased he property last MarchAccompanying Barton were banker Cal Rossi and investor Pieter van der Hammen, of the Netherlands, who assured the council that the project had no other suits to be cleared and that it was fully funded for construction. Bankers loaning money for construction projects require clear title to the land which is used as collateral for loans.

On Tuesday, Mayor Ron Wolfe suggested to fellow council members the town would “better off” if the project was completed, and urged the building permit be extended. The developers wanted to avoid the additional expense of a new project review and building permit fees that could make the project more difficult to fund.Barton’s group has already posted a $60,000 bond with the town that will be used to reclaim the site if the project is not completed. His company will also be contributing an additional $40,000 to the town that will be used to build affordable housing.More moneyOne of the lawsuits that delayed the project was filed by Richard Mark of Malibu, Calif., who claimed he was owed $100,000 and an equity stake in the project. Mark filed a foreclosure action that only recently was cleared. Mark called it a “substantial settlement,” but did not reveal how much has been paid.In an earlier interview, Barton said his company had posted a bond around the suit, proclaiming that it was not impeding progress. But a Jan. 24 letter from the lender, Prime Income Asset Management of Dallas, stated, “Due to the outstanding litigation between Richard Mark we have not been able to release any funds or finalize the closing.”

Late last week crews from Colorado First Construction raced to clear snow and begin work on the foundation of the project, in an effort to beat the deadline. But they did not pass an inspection required by the town, according to a chronology presented to council.If the project is not built, the town will keep the $250,000 performance bond, said Larry Brooks, town manager.Staff Writer Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 450, or, Colorado

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