Bald Mountain Development, the Boston & Chicago-backed local developers who have sought to develop a hotel and now a mix of townhouses and affordable housing units at the base of Aspen Mountain's Lift 1A, have announced they purchased the infamous ski bum slum dwelling known as the Aspenwalk building at 404 Park Avenue, which many see as a bargaining chip in Bald Mountain's effort to convince the city to lower the number of affordable housing units it's required to build at its 1A site. As it stands, Bald Mountain has plans, approved in 2003, to develop 14 townhouses and 17 affordable housing units on its 2.4 acre property there, but wants to move 7 of those affordable units to 404 Park, which it plans to renovate, but not rebuild. The Aspenwalk building, despite housing mostly locals, is not deed-restricted to affordable housing only, and Bald Mountain is trying not to trigger an Aspen city law that states that any multi-family buildings that are knocked down must be rebuilt as affordable housing. How they would go about renovating the jalopy of a structure at 404 Park without needing to rebuild it remains something of a mystery, or at minimum a project requiring some serious imagination.
Bald Mountain announced their intention to buy the Aspenwalk building last March. Its Minnesota-based owners had to foreclose on the property when one of them, businessman Tom Petters, was convicted of orchestrating a $3.65 billion dollar Ponzi scheme, the third-biggest hedge fund fraud in US history, that defrauded investors by convincing them to give Petter Company money to buy electronics that would be sold to big-box retailers. Instead, Petters used the money to fund his extravagant lifestyle, pay back other investors, and fund other businesses. $12.67 million of the money was used to purchase the Aspenwalk building in 2007. There's no word yet as to what the building's sale price was this time around.
It's not clear Bald Mountain has their ace in the hole with the City Council, though, as they've indicated their preference to keep all 17 of the 1A project's affordable housing units on that site.
· Aspen Street developers acquire Park on Park site [Aspen Daily News]
· Aspenwalk archives [Curbed Ski]