Related Colorado settled a lawsuit brought by a spurned development partner that was impeding progress on the Base Village project.
Related subsidiary Snowmass Acquisition Co. and Sunrise Co. said in a press release announcing the settlement Thursday that the terms are confidential.
Related brought on Sunrise in 2014 to develop Lot 3 of Base Village, consisting of the stalled project’s most visible incomplete buildings facing Wood Road. Work stopped on the project in 2009 after Related lost its financing in the recession. Sunrise had plans to restart construction and develop a fractional-owners residence club in the buildings.
In October 2015, Related cancelled its letter of intent to sell the building sites to Sunrise, despite Sunrise’s spending $1.5 million developing its plans, according to court documents. Related then announced its intention to sell most of its Base Village holdings to East West Partners of Vail, but that deal fell through in December. Sunrise, which is also the owner of Aspen’s Dancing Bear fractional-ownership project, filed the lawsuit in February, asking a judge to enforce the letter of intent, which would have Sunrise purchase Lot 3 for $8.2 million.
“[The parties] have resolved all disputes and mutually agreed to dismiss all existing lawsuits arising from, and related to, the sale and development of Base Village, Lot 3,” says a press release from Related and Sunrise. “In taking this action, the parties affirm their mutual respect for one another and wish each other well in their future endeavors.”
David Bovino, an attorney representing Sunrise, said his client “determined that it was in the best interests of the town of Snowmass Village and Base Village to resolve the litigation at this time.”
Sunrise may still figure into Base Village’s future development plans, he said while declining to discuss specifics.
“Sunrise remains very interested in the development of Base Village and, should the opportunity arise for Sunrise to become involved in the development of Base Village, Sunrise intends to participate,” Bovino said.
After the case was filed, Related sought to suppress an official notice of the pending litigation that could hamper the master developer’s ability to sell off all or part of the project. District Court Judge Chris Seldin in May declined to suppress the notice — known as a “lis pendens” — finding a “rational basis” to support Sunrise’s unjust termination claims. Seldin also ordered Related to pay Sunrise’s legal fees incurred defending against Related’s petition for lis pendens removal.
Bovino said the “wheels are in motion” for the lawsuit notice to be removed now that the case has been settled.
Related Vice President Craig Monzio said that the lawsuit settlement clears the way for Related to move ahead with the sale of another portion of Base Village, known as Lot 2, to Aspen Skiing Co., which intends to develop a Limelight hotel on the parcel.
There is another pending lawsuit concerning the project. Snowmass Village resident and current mayor candidate Richard Goodwin filed suit in October 2014 seeking to invalidate the town council’s vote earlier that month extending the project’s vested rights. Goodwin claimed the vote was tainted by ex parte communications —taking place between an elected official and an applicant outside the public forum — involving a town council member and a SkiCo executive acting on Related’s behalf. Goodwin also believes the vested rights had already lapsed due to prior proceedings involving a bank’s foreclosure on the project.
Seldin ruled against Goodwin in July, but the plaintiff is pressing ahead with an appeal that is expected to last nine to 12 months before it is resolved.