The minimum bid at Wednesday’s scheduled foreclosure auction for the Mountain House Lodge bed and breakfast is $5.5 million.
But despite public pleas by Mayor Mick Ireland, it does not appear that the city of Aspen will be among those bidding on the property at the 10 a.m. public trustee’s sale on the Pitkin County Courthouse steps.
“The bottom line is that council has not given the staff any direction to do anything,” said Scott Miller, the city’s capital asset director.
The Mountain House is a 26-room bed and breakfast that, with rooms in the $200-a-night range during peak season, is among the lowest-priced options in a town where the average daily rate was $468 in February.
The property’s owners, Mountain House Partners, LLC, of Breckenridge, went into foreclosure in November, owing 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 bank submitted the minimum bid amount on Monday.
Ireland has argued that the city should consider stepping in to prevent the lodge from falling into the hands of an owner who would likely convert the property into a residential use.
The spacious lot on the 900 block of East Hopkins Avenue could be very lucrative if it is redeveloped into new luxury condos. Ireland has described that scenario as “another brick in the wall” in making Aspen less attainable as a vacation destination for anyone other than the most wealthy.
Ireland faced push back from fellow council members on the idea of getting involved in the Mountain House. Councilman Adam Frisch protested going into an executive session earlier this month when the city heard a valuation analysis on the property from its real estate broker. Frisch said at the time that the city should not be discussing the matter privately, and that he was not interested in spending anything on the property.
On Monday, Frisch said it would be unfortunate if the property ceased to be a mid-priced lodge, but that the city should not be getting into the lodging business.
Ireland was unavailable for comment.
While the Pitkin County Treasurer’s Office, which manages foreclosure sales, was still planning as of Monday afternoon on going forward with Wednesday’s auction, it’s possible that some last-minute maneuvering could delay the event. For example, the owners might file for bankruptcy, even as last-minute as today, which could potentially give them another chance to hang on to the lodge.
Should the auction go forward, interested bidders need to show up Wednesday morning with a certified check for $5.5 million, plus an additional $50, since bidding goes up in $50 increments.