Sunlight ski resort gives up on base village idea for now

Lack of investors forces management to shelve project plan

Sunlight Mountain Resort has withdrawn its proposal for a base village project, deciding to hold off on pursuing any development approval pending discussions with potential investors.

Garfield County commissioners originally had been scheduled to consider in January a proposal for 830 housing units and 110,000 square feet of commercial space at the resort near Glenwood Springs.

However, they postponed consideration until May when Sunlight asked for more time after a development group backed out of buying the resort in December.

Sunlight General Manager Tom Jankovsky said that in talking to other potential investors, Sunlight’s current owners realized the proposal might not be the right one for them.

“We didn’t want to tie ourselves down to this particular application,” Jankovsky said.

Sunlight is owned by Sunlight Inc., a Colorado corporation with about three dozen shareholders. The resort was put up for sale in 2005 for $50 million.

Investors involved with Exquisite Development in Florida contracted a year later to buy the resort for an undisclosed price. However, they pulled out of the deal after deciding they didn’t think they could win acceptable development approvals from the county.

Their decision came after the county’s planning commission unanimously recommended denial of the base village project, which some commission members thought was too big.

Jankovsky said if Sunlight had been able to obtain county approval for the project, it could have committed other potential investors to more housing units than they might want.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean a smaller project eventually will be proposed.

“One of the people we talked to had much grander ideas,” Jankovsky said.

Sunlight’s owners say lift, snowmaking and other improvements are needed on the mountain, and the only way to pay for them is through some sort of development.

“We still feel that a base village is very important for the ski resort and for the ski resort to be viable, so at some point in the future, we’ll be back with a different application,” Jankovsky said.

Sunlight’s owners say that will require a sale to development-oriented investors.

Jankovsky said the resort isn’t using any real estate agents, but has talked to a number of prospective investors. Most have had ties to the Florida group, either as partners or possible investors in its Sunlight plan.

Jankovsky said the nation’s lending crisis continues to hinder the ability of would-be developers to obtain financing for a Sunlight project.

Meanwhile, it didn’t make sense to continue to pursue county development approvals that would have had a limited shelf life, he said.

“We kind of felt it was best to hunker down right now,” Jankovsky said.


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