March 7, 2012

SandBoxBlogs: Snowmass Sun "Skico accused of fraudulent actions in Base Village condo sales"

Brent Gardner-Smith:
"Attorneys for 29 condo owners in the Capital Peak Lodge claim in a lawsuit that Aspen Skiing Co. “participated in a joint scheme” with other Base Village developers to defraud condo buyers.

The suit claims that Skico, along with Intrawest, The Related Cos., Related WestPac and other corporate entities involved with Base Village, purposely overstated the size of the condos in the Capital Peak Lodge in order to charge buyers more and increase profits.

The lawsuit also claims that entities associated with Related later took steps to conceal the true size of the condos from buyers by failing to list the size of the units on an official condo map and by providing overstated figures to the Pitkin County Assessor...."  (Read more?  Click title)

"Unapologetically pursuing and tracking patterns within the news others make since 2010."


glenwoodsprings22 said...

ab--what are the building address numbers down in the Ghettos on Market Street that got squeezed by Macgregor and boys so bad that they don't even have street addresses?

ab22 said...

How about we stick with just the one bldg. that's fully documented out there, which is 20 bldg. Let's stick with what's fully documented with the local post office, city bldg and planning and the landlords from 2006 through 2009.

Yes, the "Ghettos", at least on Market Street has the same issue as both of the lawsuits mentioned here. And yes, if you strip away all the LLC's, metro district and corporate entities; Robert Macgregor remains the common denominator at The Meadows in sharing still ownership/profit sharing percentages out there.

With that said, I have no idea, no involvement, no information, no knowledge of any kind nor any interest other than being a news junkie that is following the same patterns you guys are in local interests. It does sound like, especially in the previous lawsuit won, as though the same or a similar way of conducting development business has taken place for these 29 owners.

Here's the issue at the "Ghettos" (which has been endlessly posted by multitudes of the trades who worked out there, the contractors who went through liens, etc. and disenfranchised original tenants who suffered through the huge financial losses it took to get through tenant buildout. Those threads can be found on blogs and websites belonging to others and/or government sites. Please do not email me with complaints. The information is everywhere out there if you know where construction folk 'hang out' on the web.

When they did Market Street they were allotted a specific number of units. That's standard for the industry. That due diligence process includes allocating a physical address to each unit and each building. Investigative reporters will find that the total number of units on the street (you have to include the shops that took double spaces (such as HealthStyles in 20 bldg))are (4) short of having a physical address. In the case of 20 bldg. Unit E was the odd duck out. When I went to get an address change signed on for that unit, postmaster would not give one because in their records no such unit existed. If I had not been knowledgable on my right to an address as a lease was clearly there; I would not have been given one. Only 4 physical addresses are designated for 20 building. Because HealthStyles has a double space lease and only one address, I was given the 4th physical location. When asked, the postmaster stated that if at any point in time the spaces on Market Street become all single space tenant leases, there will be 4 that will not have a physical location address. In the way of things that is a fact that should be of concern to the the City of Glenwood. Like other issues we have, it's probably a Murphy's Law that the problem will eventually rear its head.

The problem went so much further in needing to be fought in the bloody knuckles of everyone because one thing led to another and it became clear in all inspections of tenant buildout that was a symbolic problem for many other serious issues that the tenants throughout the Meadows endure every day. Problems that places like the RFTA barn endure and the upcoming "green" and "affordable" housing units that we just inherited the "driveway vs. public street" problem on and now need to decide if we give waiver of all fees on to the developer.


ab22 said...

Since we're talking about how they came up with 5 units in building 20 on Market Street instead of the original 4 units they were allocated at original approval on; I'll stay on that point.

One of the biggest problems out there at core and shell build was the slip-up by the city to allow certain inspectors to be run under the developer/builders instead of the city. Those third-party inspections on architecture and engineering missed a lot of things. Such as all the hollering being done by local dirt guys and plumbers. Knowing they were building on continually moving dirt and that nature controls that out there, not man; these wise trades made sure they were covered by making sure they explained the full merits of why more money should be spent on certain types of excavation and pipe laying. In the end, they didn't get hit as hard with change orders and punch lists when the developer/builder tried to push over all the problems that were fast popping up.

In the case of a building like 20 and it being core and shell approved by others, the city inspectors didn't get to see the interiors for things like water taps and conduit runs with high volt wiring from boxes to each unit were in fact..not even there. It is the legal responsibility of the core and shell to make sure that the tenant can walk into a unit and install electricity and running water. Toilets must flush and a light switch flip on in order to get a C.O. The way the developer/landlords were selling those units to tenants was either as a vanilla shell (all ready to go) or as a tenant buildout. They were selling them with only one or two water taps per building instead of a tap at each unit. That's fine unless you're a retail store sharing a water tap with a hair salon next door or a restaurant. The way they got around the problem when they realized and had unhappy people was to put the development on shared water payments. You pay a % based on your sq. footage. Because the cost of high-volt wiring to run the full length of a long core and shell is astronomical; there was no way to get that developer/landlord to bring the problem up to scratch. The tenant absorbed the cost.

As far as space size goes, a retail location (or as is probably the complaint in this article about the Snowmass lawsuit) is rented by the sf. By shaving down the demising wall thickness, creative use of fire closet spacing and thickness of concrete block (and not fill that block with concrete as is good and proper building but instead only hit the pressure, load bearing and freeze wall corners, it is actually possible to milk a few hundred sq. ft off each space. So, you end up with the ability to have a Unit E when you were only originally approved up to a Unit D. Why was all this (plus a lot more) not caught at building and developing time?

Because the building and planning dept, city admin, city council and all the powers that be did not catch the fact that having 3rd party inspectors under the control of the developer/builder and from outlying areas were following the exact rules that are in our city codes. It's not the city inspectors or fire marshal's fault that they had major headaches with all original tenant buildouts. It's the fault of the powers that be.

My guess is that these original owners of these units in this article's lawsuit have a number of problems and that those problems cost them a lot of money that they shouldn't have had to spend. It is great to see that all these little guys are standing up and making these strong statements. Maybe change in how we develop and build will really come at some point in time.

And that my vocal all you get from me on this. Behave yourselves out there.

hammerandnails said...

Tx, dear. Man, we miss you. Best jump start microblogger around. I know he saw this but it's been a day around this place. Custom home construction will show by the end of '12 as picking up in the area but it's still a wild and wooly atmosphere. If things weren't so iffy in Europe we'd do another round in the far middle east. You know all that posting up of cutesy penguings has now got me roped into taking the babe to Antartica, now I've got to find Schlumberger and get the lay of the land. He went a few years back. If I recall right, certain pretty photos you posted on one of the other blogs suckered me into a redo on our master bath a couple years ago that ended up costing me as much as that wing of the house. I think it's time you got back to the world of the living and drowned yourself in work like you used to. My savings account needs time to recover. We will take a lot of photos and give Berwyn a race on who has the best penguin shots.

There're many things that are wrong with the picture of big developments like base village. But the biggest one of all is the same as everything in the Ghettos, back in the day of the community center, back in the day of a lot of employee housing projects and mega projects like Highlands. It all comes back to what the public gets to hear through mass communication sources vs what the public knows through the grapevine. These power developments get away with doing the shuck and jive on a lot of this stuff not necessarily because of one sector in the development team but because our government officials don't have a clue on purpose. This is one of the reasons a guy like Grob is going to make a great Pitco commissioner.

There are county codes and rules and inspectors. There are town and city same. There are state inspections and in some cases federal inspections. Related is a trustworthy company that would never have been screwed out of that project if it hadn't been for the setup of the cash flow by the europeans. Who, btw have done that on more than one project. Look at what DiVenere went through on Dancing Bear. There are common threads of the same companies, lenders and participants in these things that know how to play the game in order to get the most $$$ ka-ching on that bottom line. As long as the region's mass media keeps dropping the ball on tying all these stories together and getting out there to push hard asking the hard questions, we're going to end up with politicians that are ineffective and who make the problems worse.

On your story of the Ghettos 20 bldg (nice job of dancing there, btw. Leaving out all you could say and the few dozen more major and serious concerns that point to we should never let MacGregor in the city limits again) add up the money. Conservative guess that a single unit is around $2,000 a month in rent. 4 of them is $8,000 a month. That's $96K a year in rent income. Nobody should be thinking that whether or not it's rental income or real estate sales income that there's going to be a difference between an owner or a tenant in that kind of environment. Nobody's getting hurt on the developer and owner end.

Sorry to see Related have to be dumped into this unless they're the ones that gave that creative math calculations to do the squeeze on unit size. Lot of ways to do that with flat framing, metal studs, decrease drywall thickness and insulation. You'd be surprised how much adds up when your dealing with hundreds of units. Those kind of things don't slip easily by building and planning guys. Somebody got creative somewhere along the way if the units really are smaller.

You write back in now. Ya hear?

Anonymous said...

If we had accurate news reporting in this town Stroud would have reported the tie to the last time Macgregor threatened city council.

That would be 4,5,6 yrs. ago when those affordable units they're mad about now came up to be passed. That bloody knuckles ab's talking about left enough of an impression on city build and plan that they finally stood up and cut back a lot of the slum-lord building tactics used up to that point. It was going to cost them more money to build because they had to change their ways. Trouble is nobody had the guts or knowledge or the stamina to fight through making the right hand talks to the left in COGS. So they did the usual easy way out and went only part way. Council has no right to be surprised now after they wait a few years on developer end so that a few election cycles come and go and memories fade.

The only way that the people are going to get protection and stay protected is if they take care of this kind of thing by themselves. I could care less if the name is anonymous or JohnDoe. It's the information I care about. So should our officials and politicians. Good luck to these homeowners on getting Judge Lynch to hear their whole story and good luck to the people of COGS. Maybe those fees won't get reversed at all and Macgregor will make good on his latest threat and never develop another thing.

sumfu said...

Yep, you are missed. Have to laugh some on thinking back over the kind of building contractors and trades that do the kind of problem these homeowners are suing over. Or are just worthless in their performance end but think they're God's gift to construction. Like a certain faux painter who hasn't held a job down since mid-1990's. You're just giving me a walk down memory lane, ab so took a walk on the web to try to find some of that crowd. Pretty interesting to see the rocks slithered out from under. Come blog with us down here in the world of comments, my friend. You're sorely missed.

Affordable housing complexes, employee housing developments, Base Village et al, the Meadows in Glenwood Springs are all the same problem. As long as the people let elected officials that are deliberately clueless or can be swayed by power and social pressure to stay in office and consumers contineu to allow the survival of corporate newspapers that don't report or have caliber quality investigative reporters; we're going to be stuck with people getting hurt like this.

The message being sent is clearing up. People are standing up and not taking it anymore. I appreciate seeing people like Emmer not backing down up in Aspen and just pounding away every single time a detail pops up that shows what's really going on in all this soft corruption. It never used to be that way because people were just too afraid. It's a form of social bullying that's made a lot of people in the area very wealthy over the years. Here's to judge Lynch stopping another one. The lawyers for the plaintiffs need to document the details so that the people can keep pounding away on point.

glenwoodsprings22 said...

Sorry it took me so long to get back ab. Not much I can add to the thread here because you all pitched in what I was looking for. And that is the tie that all these major developments have. Until the day comes that city talks to county and county talks to city and state talks to both city and county; we're going to have major holes with the only one really getting hurt is the buyer or the tenant. As long as we have no effective media reporting and tracking this stuff anywhere in the valley we're going to be ripe for the plucking. Something that guys like Macgregor and financiers like Harpo recognize right away. And yea. You are sorely missed.

jbend said...

Those cheap units that cost a king's ransom to buy are just like Johnny says in his column. Sure weren't built to last 100 years. All these developments are the same because the elected politicians don't know a thing about construction. Vote Grob.