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Mountain News: Bad real estate loans lead to bank closure



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Base villages panned

MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. - Ever since Pete Seibert Sr. returned from the Alps in the 1950s and then issued his vision in Vail Village, somewhat similar villages have been showing up, reaching crescendo levels in the last 15 years. One of them is at Mammoth Lakes.

The argument can be made that such villages, when done by large developers such as Intrawest, are an exercise in good planning. But others have seen them as phony. Taking the latter view is Steve Klassen, a legendary snowboarder owner of Wave Rave, a snowboard, clothing, and accessories company.

"The word village conjures up images of heritage and community," Klassen tells Mammoth's The Sheet . "Unfortunately, I don't think it stands for those things. I view it as a developers' appetite for greed.

"I do feel sorry for the tenants of the (Mammoth) Village. When Intrawest first rolled into town with all this money, it seemed like a good thing. You would walk into that sales office and it looked legit. However, I saw right through it. Do you know that their (Intrawest's parent company Fortress Investments) stock was down 96 per cent for the year not too long ago. It's really too bad. The whole thing was a case of slick marketing, and unfortunately the bottom fellow out."

Real estate project scrapped

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. - A proposal for a major real estate development at the base of Sunlight Mountain Resort, a ski area, has been formally withdrawn. There were doubts about the size of the project, making it appear that development approvals might not have been awarded by Garfield County. As well, the development was being reviewed even as the market for new mountain real estate was crumbling.

The proposal called for 830 housing units and 110,000 square feet of commercial space. A planning commission last winter recommended the project be denied, and the proponent withdrew the application in April.

"We just felt it wasn't in our best interests to move forward," said Tom Jankovsky, the ski area manager. "Definitely, money is part of it," he added in an interview with The Aspen Times .

The development proposal had been triggered by sale of the ski area. The sale of the ski area, however, was contingent upon approval of the real estate development. Jankovsky said the ski area infrastructure badly needs investment - everything but the snow cats, he said.