Sale of Hala Ranch one of the most expensive real estate transactions in area’s history
Last week’s purchase of Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan’s Hala Ranch is one of the largest single-residence real estate transactions in Aspen’s history, and combined with other sales on the sprawling property, is by far the most generated by one owner.
It was confirmed on Tuesday that hedge fund manager John A. Paulson, president and founder of Paulson & Co., Inc. was the buyer of Bandar’s Hala Ranch in the Starwood subdivision. The entire 130-acre property is located in a gated community on the slopes of Red Mountain.
Paulson’s spokesman, Armel Leslie, of the New York public relations firm Walek and Associates, confirmed that Paulson bought two of Bandar’s properties on May 31 for $49 million. Paulson bought the 90-acre Hala Ranch for $41 million and a 38-acre adjoining parcel known as Bear Cabin for $8 million.
And while the sale of Hala Ranch is not the highest recorded sale in the Aspen market, it’s close, said Tim Estin, a broker with Coldwell Banker Mason Morse Real Estate.
In 2004 $46 million sale of Mandalay Ranch property in Owl Creek as the most expensive residential real estate transaction in Pitkin County history.
Two other notable sales are the $36.375 million Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich paid in 2008 for Leon Hirsch’s Wildcat Ridge estate near Snowmass Village, and an estate near the base of West Buttermilk that sold in 2010 for $31.5 million to internet entrepreneur Robert L. Zangrillo.
Combined, Bandar has sold three of his Aspen-area properties for a total of $85.5 million.
The 2007 sale of the 14,395-square-foot caretaker unit on nearly 67 acres on the Hala Ranch property to Jeffrey Soffer for $36.5 million established a record for a single-family home sale in the Aspen area at the time.
Bandar listed his ranch and the 56,000-square-foot, 15-bedroom, 16-bath home in 2006 for $135 million, but officially pulled it off the market 16 months later.
The Pitkin County Assessor values the Bandar property at $84.2 million, although assessor’s staff have conceded in the past that the holding is difficult to put a value on, as such numbers are calculated using comparable sales data. Little to none of that exists for a property like Hala Ranch.
Bandar bought the land in 1989 for $3.5 million, and built the main residence in 1991.
The property represents one of the most pristine working ranches in Aspen with more than 100 acres of aspen trees, pine groves, paddocks and farmland, according to Leslie’s statement.
“Our goal will be to both upgrade and reduce the scale of the house while preserving the uniqueness of this beautiful property,” the statement reads.
The property has been renamed Star Ranch.
“Mr. Paulson has vacationed in Aspen for more than 25 years and two years ago purchased a home in Aspen,” the statement reads. “He and his family intend to stay in Aspen for many years to come.”
In June 2010, Paulson bought a 12,500-square-foot home near Hala Ranch for $24.5 million, located on Sunnyside Lane on eight acres off of McLain Flats Road.
The Starwood property is located farther up the slopes of Red Mountain from the Sunnyside Lane home, with even more commanding views.
The buyer of public record for the Sunnyside Lane property is Aspen Lakes Ranch LLC. The LLC was registered with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office on May 7, 2010 by the Aspen law firm of Oates, Knezevich, Gardenswartz & Kelly, P.C.
The buyer for Hala Ranch is identified in public records only as Starwood Mountain Ranch LLC, which was incorporated in March by the same law firm.
Starwood Mountain Ranch also purchased on May 31 four-week interests in two adjoining units at the St. Regis’ Aspen Residence Club for $500,000 each, according to Pitkin County records.
Paulson, 56, is a billionaire who made a fortune in 2007 betting against the subprime mortgage sector. The New York City native has a wife and two children.
Prince Bandar was Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States from 1983 to 2005.
Estin said the Hala Ranch purchase will bring the total dollar volume of real estate sales closer to last year, which saw more real estate dollar volume through May than 2012. In his monthly real estate report, Estin reported that as of May, total dollar volume was 25 percent down year-to-date from 2011.
“There is some reason for optimism that it’s not going to be as worse as we thought,” he said.
He also noted that a Maroon Creek riverfront estate built in 2008, on the market since June 2007 at an asking price of $29.95 million, went under contract last week and is scheduled to close at the end of July.
“These two sales should bring the year’s total sales dollar volume closer to last year,” Estin’s report reads. He noted that the deficiency in total dollar sales for 2012 is largely due to the lack of “big ticket” sales — $10 million or more, in the first five months of this year. From Jan. 1 to May 31, there were four single-family home sales over $10 million. From Jan. 1, 2011 to May 31, 2011, there were 12 sales over $10 million.