Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland said he wants the city government to take a look at potentially bidding on the Mountain House Lodge when it goes to a foreclosure auction next month.
The 26-room bed and breakfast at 905 E. Hopkins Ave. is one of a handful of remaining small lodges in Aspen. However, a new owner could tear it down and build a single-family home or some other residential property, which Ireland said would represent a continued erosion of Aspen’s tourism infrastructure in favor of lightly occupied home and condo development.
The foreclosure sale, conducted by the Pitkin County Public Trustee, is scheduled for March 27 on the steps of the Pitkin County Courthouse. As of Nov. 5, 2012, the lodge’s owners — Mountain House Partners LLC of Breckenridge — owe Community Banks of Colorado $5.86 million on an $8.54 million loan from 2007, according to public records. The owners purchased the property in 2007 for $7.98 million.
The property has been under the control of a court-appointed receiver since November; the property also went into foreclosure that month. The owners have until March 12 to file a “notice of intent to cure,” which could stave off the foreclosure sale.
Ireland said he asked city staff to look into the profitability of the lodge, to see if it would be a worthy investment.
“We would need to see the viability of this operation as a lodge,” Ireland said.
The owners last year applied for a property tax abatement from Pitkin County for 2010, arguing that the assessed value of the property for that year should be lowered to $4.37 million. The petition was denied.
In the petition materials, Mountain House Partners included a list of revenues and expenses from 2008, which showed gross income of $774,183 and expenses of $537,646.
After reviewing the numbers, Ireland referred to the situation with the Mountain House as “another brick in the wall,” where a viable business is threatened with closure and conversion to a private residential use.
He suggested that the city could bid on the lodge through the foreclosure sale process, and then flip the property to someone who agrees to keep it as a lodge.
“I don’t have this burning desire to operate a lodge,” Ireland said. “But I’m concerned about a viable business turning into residential property.”