The Aspen couple who have sparked a community uproar with scores of noise complaints about neighboring restaurants and bars thought they would be welcome in the downtown core.
Instead, Michael Sedoy and Natalia Shvachko are embroiled in two lawsuits, with an attorney at one point seeking the medical records of Shvachko and the couple’s child until the couple dropped their pursuit of damages for allegedly noise-induced health concerns.
Recently filed court documents that are part of the city of Aspen’s building-access lawsuit against Sedoy and Shvachko shed light on why they moved to the area that has drawn their ire.
The couple wanted to buy a residence in downtown Aspen “given that they lived in New York City and liked city life,” wrote their attorney, John Case of Aspen. “During their research process, they were told that the problem with downtown Aspen was there were empty, dark penthouses sitting ... empty most of the year, and that a young family with children would be welcomed to reside full time in downtown Aspen.”
Instead, Shvachko and Sedoy made the first of their noise complaints to Aspen police in December 2012, a couple of months after moving in to a two-floor penthouse in the Ute City building on Hopkins Avenue. According to evidence in a January noise-complaint trial involving the Aspen Brewing Co., which shares a wall with the couple’s condo, they have lodged more than 30 complaints against: the brewing company (which was found not guilty); the Ute City Grill; the nightclub Bootsy Bellows and its predecessor, Syzygy; Jimmy’s; and the Square Grouper.
Shvachko and Sedoy, in turn, are being sued by the city because they have refused to allow access in the front of the Ute City building to residents of affordable housing units. The refusal to allow access through an eastside elevator and staircase also has cut off the ability for disabled people to access the basement restaurant and nightclub, Bootsy Bellows. The city contends the couple is violating city and federal building codes.
Case’s Jan. 28 court filing that contains the real estate information is a motion that seeks to prevent the city from “taking or interfering with their property rights ...”
Before buying the property for nearly $6.3 million, Shvachko and Sedoy “hired one of the town’s best real estate brokers and a prominent law firm, Garfield and Hecht, to assist them.”
The real estate agent on the sale, Tim Estin, declined comment when asked about the couple’s purchasing process.
“I never talk about clients,” he said Wednesday.
But the building on what’s known as “Restaurant Row” interested Shvachko and Sedoy because of the layout of the adjoining condos they now own, according to Case’s motion.
They “wanted to use the building’s two free-market units as one to create a residence with the use of the private east elevator, hallways and staircase to move between the units,” the filing says.
As Shvachko and Sedoy understood the purchase terms, that elevator and staircase are for their exclusive use, and they never would have bought the units otherwise, Case wrote.
“At the time of the purchase there were a number of other properties on the market that Sedoy and Shvachko were interested in and could have bought,” the motion says. “After the purchase, Sedoy and Shvachko spent approximately another $2 million finishing out their two units.”
A subcontractor that worked on the residences has filed a lawsuit against the couple and the general contractor in Pitkin County Court, alleging it is owed more than $12,000.
The defendants have counter-sued in that case and in the city’s lawsuit. The couple also has sought an injunction that would prevent music from being played by Ute City Grill and Boosty Bellows, both located in the building the reside in, after 10 p.m.
To bolster their case, Shvachko was prepared to testify that the alleged noise disrupted her sleep and that of her young child, to the point where the child developed a medical condition.
The attorney for the two entities that own the restaurant and nightclub spaces, Lance Coté of Aspen, contended that he needed the medical records of Shvachko and her child in order to prepare his defense.
Judge Gail Nichols of Pitkin County District Court resolved the issue in a status conference on Feb. 12, though Case has asked her to reconsider the issue.
If Shvachko agrees to not testify that the noise made it difficult for her and her child to sleep, then the medical records will be off limits due to lack of relevant evidence.
Case wrote that Sedoy and Shvachko agreed to that in order to protect her privacy, but the attorney “respectfully suggests that [Nichols] is drawing the line at a point slightly beyond common sense, and asks the court to reconsider.
“Is there anyone on earth who hasn’t been woken up due to noise at some point in their life?” Case wrote. He adds, later in the filing, “Mr. Sedoy, who did not seek medical treatment, can testify that the noise made it impossible for him to sleep or work in his office. Shouldn’t Ms. Shvachko be able to do the same, just without any mention of seeking or receiving medical treatment?”
Nichols has yet to rule on whether she will reconsider.