Members of the Smuggler Racquet Club have reached an agreement with Sunrise Co. for development of the 45-year-old club that sits on 6 acres of prime real estate in east Aspen, according to Sunrise’s chief operating officer Randall Bone. He said the agreement precedes what will be a formal purchase contract to the SRC for about $15.5 million, adding there are some details that still need to be finalized.
The Sunrise offer envisions approximately 23 employee housing and 18 free market units, for a total of more than 75,000 square feet of development. The Aspen-based developer would also help the Smuggler Racquet Club members through the city review process to redevelop their club site and facility, which today features a modest clubhouse and outdoor tennis courts. Members have indicated a desire for two indoor courts, possibly a place for pickle ball, and an approximately 2,200-square-foot replacement clubhouse facility.
Sunrise was selected through a vote of the club’s members on Aug. 16 during its annual meeting. The racquet club, which was founded in the 1970s and has prided itself on a low-key atmosphere, has about 120 members.
The previous evening, directors of the Smuggler Racquet Club’s development committee were apprised of two competing proposals that would be located on the 2.07-acre upper bench of the property near the base of Smuggler Mountain and below Centennial Condominiums. It’s believed to be one of the largest remaining undeveloped sites in Aspen.
A competing proposal that has been nearly three years in the making was offered by Smuggler Mine owner Per Johansson, his buyer-broker representative Tim Mooney said Thursday. That plan included free market single-family and duplex development on the racquet club parcel and employee housing on the mine parcel, which overlooks the racquet club land. Johansson bought the approximately 30-acre Smuggler Mine in 2015 for $7.5 million.
A third concept, which explored using taxpayer-funded open space dollars and private money to buy the bench of prime open land between Matchless Drive and Park Circle, was not among the finalists.
Both of the proposals that received final consideration offered $15.5 million for the property, according to Mooney, an Aspen real estate agent. Bone had earlier said the purchase price was “in the ballpark of $15 million.”
Club members who reviewed and voted on the proposal last week are bound by a confidentiality agreement, according to members Bill Stirling and Rodney Jacobs.
But in separate interviews, Bone and Mooney shared their knowledge of the proposals.
Bone said it’s anticipated the purchase will close in “multiple stages” and that the plan remains essentially unchanged from one shared with racquet club members in March. Along with about 23,000 square feet in deed-restricted housing there would be a maximum of 18 townhomes spanning approximately 3,000 square feet each, according to that plan. Aspen City Council would have to agree to a rezoning of the land to accommodate that much density on site.
Sunrise, which owns the Dancing Bear Aspen luxury fractional development, has requested 19 private memberships in the tennis club for use by eventual townhome owners, as part of its proposal.
“It is our desire and the club’s desire to move forward with the club design and entitlements as soon as possible,” Bone said this week. He added that the developer still has work to do with members to determine the project’s shape, but reiterated that some of its key tenets are on-site employee housing and a walkability component.
Mooney said mine owner Johansson’s plan would mitigate the employee housing requirement by building those units on the Smuggler Mine property. Separating the free market and affordable housing would result in less density than Sunrise’s plan, for a total of about 45,000 to 48,000-square-feet on the 2-acre bench behind the club, he said.
“What we decided was something that would be compatible with the surrounding neighborhood,” Mooney said. That development plan, which would require a lot split and change in zoning, could have included about 18 duplexes or up to 15 single-family homes on the bench parcel, he said.
The six acres owned by the club are contained in a single lot, according to the city of Aspen. In addition to the clubhouse and tennis courts, there is an historic cabin, which is habited, located on site. A rezoning would be required for different uses.