Will Minturn get smaller? | VailDaily.com

Will Minturn get smaller?

Landowner with plans to develop Bolts Lake area now asking to leave Minturn

The owner of the Battle Mountain property is asking for the land in blue be disconnected, or de-annexed, from the town. The landowner also owns the mountaintop parcel, shown in white at top.
Special to the Daily

MINTURN — After two key deals fell apart in recent months, a developer that proposed to build 712 homes in Minturn is now asking that the land be removed from the town.

The owner of the Battle Mountain property submitted an application Friday to disconnect, or de-annex, 644 acres of land from the town of Minturn.

“The Battle Property Owners have determined that there is no viable opportunity for development of the Bolts Lake area within the town,” said Lorne Bassel, president and CEO of Crave Real Estate, the development group, in the application.

The area, which stretches from the Maloit Park area up to and including the abandoned town of Gilman, would become unincorporated Eagle County.

The Town Council would have to approve the de-annexation. The landowner also has the right to petition a court for an order of disconnection, bypassing the council.

Tim McGuire, director of Colorado development for Crave, did not respond to an email seeking comment Monday afternoon.

Minturn Mayor John Widerman said Monday that he believes the developer aims to work with Eagle County to try to build the development.

“Obviously, de-annexing is the first step in that,” he said.

The developer asked for the Minturn Town Council to introduce a proposal for the de-annexation at its Oct. 2 meeting, and approve it within 60 days.

Rejected agreements

On May 1, the Minturn Town Council rejected an amended funding agreement for the Battle Mountain development. At issue, in part, was whether the developer should be required to replenish $7.2 million that had been released in 2012 to the developer from an escrow fund.

“We had the funding agreement on the agenda and had some vocal members of the community come out and speak against it,” Widerman said. “To that note, we denied the funding agreement hoping to find another iteration that would allow us to go forward, and we could never really get past that hurdle.”

The Town Council unanimously rejected a deal Aug. 7 that would have provided the developer enough water for its Bolts Lake proposal.

“That was one of the last straws for the developer to be able to reasonably hang on for the time period,” Widerman said. “Realistically, the next option for them is try to de-annex so they may be able to remove themselves from the funding agreement and everything that goes along with it.”

Battle Mountain’s 3,500-acre mountaintop property, closer to Red Cliff, is not included in the de-annexation application. In 2017, the upper parcel development plan was changed to 35-acre ranch lots, decreasing the density from about 1,000 units to about 100.

The disconnection would create two noncontiguous parts of Minturn — the main part of Minturn and the Battle Mountain mountaintop property.

The developer said that won’t be a problem, noting that Minturn would have no obligation to provide water, sewer or other municipal services at the mountaintop property and that all roads would be private.

How we got here

In December 2004, a Florida developer, the Ginn Companies, bought 5,300 acres between Minturn and Red Cliff for $32.5 million from the owners of the defunct New Jersey Zinc Mine. The original Battle Mountain plan, put forward by developer Bobby Ginn in 2005, included 1,700 homes, 36 holes of golf, a private ski area and commercial space.

In 2008, residents voted overwhelmingly to annex 4,300 acres of the Battle Mountain property into town. About 87 percent of voters favored the plan. Residents were promised $162 million in benefits, including a recreation center, library, new sidewalks, a paved bike path from Dowd Junction to Red Cliff, a new water and wastewater treatment plant and scholarships for Minturn residents.

But just as the original agreements were being signed, the economy took a nosedive.

Ginn dropped out of the development in 2009. Crave Real Estate Ventures, part-owned by Lubert Adler, the Philadelphia-based private investment company that financed the Battle Mountain project, took over the project.

The current proposal for the Bolts Lake area, submitted last year, is 130 acres of residential, 55 acres of mixed-use development and 376 acres of open space. The 712 homes would be built over four phases, potentially a mix of single-family, multifamily and apartment homes. The plan envisions retail and commercial space, as well.