ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS
A 124-acre ranch just west of downtown Aspen sold this week for $48.5 million, the biggest residential deal ever in the glitzy community known for some of the highest-priced real estate in the U.S. The Bar/X Ranch sale eclipsed the record of $46 million, paid in 2004 to film director Peter Guber for his 650-acre Mandalay Ranch. Even more impressive, the Bar/X Ranch sold for $391,129 per acre, compared with $70,769 per acre for the Mandalay Ranch.
Despite its price, the ranch appears to have been a great deal for the buyers, Aspen-based Austin Lawrence Partners and Apollo Real Estate Advisors of New York City. Even before the deal closed Thursday, all 13 lots on the property, ranging from 2 to 35 acres, and priced from $13 million, had been reserved. “We have a waiting list,” from other perspective buyers, in case some of the deals fall through, said BJ Adams, owner of her namesake real estate company in Snowmass, which brought Lawrence Partners to the deal and handled the sale of the lots. “To the best of my knowledge, this is the most ever paid for a residential deal, although it’s possible that a hotel might have sold for more,” Adams said. The ranch was never officially on the market, she said. And the $48.5 million price tag doesn’t include the commission, which was paid by the buyer and not by the Zoline family, which sold the ranch after owning it for more than 50 years. The family bought the ranch in 1955 and had a small cattle operation on the land for years. When the parents died, the children decided to sell, Adams said. The property along Old Stage Road is bordered by Maroon Creek on the east and the Maroon Creek Club to the southwest. “What makes it special is that there is nothing that close to Aspen like this,” said Andrew Ernemann of Lawrence Partners. “It has views, all-day sunlight, it’s on the river, and it’s maybe two miles from downtown,” he said. “It’s the kind of property that comes around once in a generation.” He said demand was so high that Adams had buyers for every lot in about two weeks. “The land is unbelievably beautiful,” Adams said. “You’re literally a two-minute drive to the town, and the bike path goes right by it. It’s like owning a ranch property in the city. You have the feeling of a rural, secluded setting in town.” She said all of the buyers are from Aspen. Adams said buyers can build homes with at least 7,500 square feet above ground on the lots, and typically can get permission to build another 2,500 square feet above ground, for a total of 10,000 square feet. The largest lot, which includes a historic farmhouse, can accommodate 18,000 square feet above ground. And as a practical matter, larger homes could be built on the lots, because architects in Aspen are masters at designing homes with huge spaces below grade, designed to bring in sunlight.
Adams said she would expect that people will spend at least $500 to $600 per square foot on their homes, meaning a 10,000-square-foot home could cost $5 million to $6 million. “Obviously, some people will spend a lot more,” said Adams, who next week is opening an office in Aspen, in addition to the company she founded in Snowmass 25 years ago.