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Vail condo re-do different from most

NWS Rams-Horn 1 KA 1-17-11
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VAIL, Colorado – Eric Adjmi skied Aspen last year, but was thrilled to come back to Vail for this season.

Adjmi is part of a unique group – condo owners at the Rams-Horn Lodge near Golden Peak. Starting about Christmas, those owners started moving back into their units, following an 18-month renovation that put a new exterior on the building, added a fourth floor and re-did the interiors of the 14 units.

Renovating old properties in Vail is nothing new, of course. What makes the Rams-Horn different is the way the project was done.



While adding units is a common way to pay for renovations, the Rams-Horn owners didn’t work with a developer. While two new units were added, they were purchased by existing owners.

And those owners footed the entire bill for the project. The project also required all of the 11 then-owners to agree to the plan.



Even with fewer than a dozen owners, getting that agreement wasn’t easy. But, in a process described as cordial by those involved, all the owners signed off. A couple of owners at the time didn’t want to go ahead with the project, but agreed to sell their units to other owners.

Ron Byrne, a longtime veteran of the Vail real estate market, said it’s difficult to get that kind of consensus on a project, because any condo complex is going to have people who have owned their units for different lengths of time.

Someone who purchased a condo in the 1970s may have very different ideas of what a complex needs than someone who bought in the last few years. And, Byrne added, a longtime owner might not be willing to stay away for a season or two.



“Say a skier is 72 and figures he’s got another eight years (of skiing),” Byrne said. “He doesn’t want to lose two of those years,” Byrne said.

‘Maximizing what we had’

For Adjmi, the renovation project was about taking an asset and getting more from it.

At first, that consensus was pretty easy, Adjmi said.

“We all kind of nodded our heads at the same time when we first started talking about it,” Adjmi said. “We looked at what we had as a valuable resource.”

As the project’s design solidified and planning for the rebuild started in earnest, the world’s economy took a turn for the worse.

After the stock market crash of late 2008, Adjmi said some of the owners had second thoughts. But those owners kept the project moving by selling, and Adjmi took advantage, ultimately upgrading from a four-bedroom to a seven-bedroom unit.

Byrne said by financing the renovation, Adjmi and his fellow owners essentially re-bought their units.

“And they bought back in at a relatively high price,” he said.

But those owners didn’t buy new units. Because the Rams-Horn pre-dates existing town rules, a brand-new building would have been smaller than the old one, and that wouldn’t have made financial sense.

‘Proud of Vail’

The Rams-Horn is now part of a growing number of older Vail buildings that have renovated to keep up with the upscale trend that hit the town during its “Billion Dollar Renewal.”

For Milligan, who moved here with her husband, John, in 1983, that evolution has been something to see.

“There’s always that concern – is change always good?” Milligan said. “But walking around the village, you can be pretty darned proud to be in Vail these days.”

Adjmi said he believes the town’s real evolution started in Lionshead, with the Arrabelle, and has moved east into and through Vail Village.

“Golden Peak is kind of the final frontier,” he said, adding there’s plenty of room for restoration in the area.

That restoration will come, probably, but Byrne said older buildings will make renovation harder in some cases.

“Most of the buildings that are very old have problems and need a lot of work,” Byrne said.

But owners in those buildings will probably figure out a way to keep up.

“The reason it works is that the end product is great,” he said.

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.


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