The majority of the Snowmass Mall is under contract to a group of local investors who are “cautiously optimistic” that the sale will close within the next four to six weeks, following the completion of final due diligence.
Dwayne Romero confirmed that “a small investment group led by The Romero Group, all of whom have strong ties to the Roaring Fork Valley,” have the main section of the mall, Snowmass’ original commercial zone, under contract for an undisclosed price.
The negotiations and offer have been underway “for months,” Romero said.
The current owner is Related Cos., which acquired the property in 2007 and employs its own personnel for mall maintenance.
Romero said on Sunday that, “It is our intention, assuming a successful closing and acquisition of the property, to employ The Romero Group for these duties. Many of our team members have multiple years of experience with the asset and the community.”
He said the investors are not interested in bulldozing the existing buildings nor uprooting the businesses.
“Our primary reason for purchasing it is to help grow and improve it as an operating asset. We are not pursuing it to scrape and replace,” Romero said late last week.
“We wish to help the mall grow and improve, and we think that role can best be performed by a local ownership team,” he said.
The property The Romero Group would acquire starts at the bus stop area, including Fuel, and encompasses the main part of the mall up to Christy Sports on one side and up to the free standing Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s building on the other side.
The mall commercial building that’s part of the Westin hotel complex, and the Timbermill building where Venga Venga operates, are separately owned and not part of this potential sale.
Craig Monzio, vice president of Related Cos,. could not be reached for comment.
Romero was president of Related Colorado from 2008 to 2015. He is currently president of The Romero Group property management firm.
The Snowmass Mall was first developed in 1967 as part of the European-style village designed by architect Fritz Benedict. When this section was initially listed for sale in 2016 through the real estate advisory firm Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, the one-acre parcel was reported to be leased to 45 tenants, was 89 percent occupied and was then producing a net operating income of $1.84 million.
Serve existing merchants first
“There are no institutional investors in the group,” said Romero, in stressing the potential purchasers’ local ties.
He said the first priority should the sale go through would be to “Make sure we do a great job with the existing merchants.” Focusing on filling what he said are “long-term vacancies” is also among the first orders of business, Romero stressed.
“There may be some potential in the long term future” of offering some mixed use areas that could accommodate live-work situations, Romero responded, when asked a direct question on live-work spaces.
Expanding uses for this commercial core was echoed during the recent update and rewrite of the town’s comprehensive plan.
“If we’re able to accomplish the purchase, we would consider those types of uses,” Romero said.
He noted a “momentum” ongoing in Snowmass, due to the Base Village restart and other factors, and surmised that this group of locals could serve the existing businesses well.
“We can be more responsive and more in tune with their goals as well as town’s goals as a resort and year round community,” Romero said.
The mall parcels controlled by the Related subsidiary were acquired separately beginning around 2005 for about $25 million by a group led at the time by Patrick Smith. (In 2007, Smith was part of the Related WestPac venture that bought Base Village from Aspen Skiing Co.and Intrawest for $169 million; he would later leave the partnership.)
The partners first purchased the addition to the Snowmass Mall closest to the RFTA stop (once known as the Gateway Building) for $10.8 million in May 2005. The same entity within a year acquired the three commercial buildings that include the iconic Stew Pot, plus the mall’s open space thoroughfare, for $14 million.
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