Bair Chase gets one more year
Bair Chase, the 280-acre golf course development south of Glenwood Springs, got a reprieve from the Garfield County commissioners Tuesday. Although the company has still not secured permanent financing, getting a one-year extension for filing a final plat of its development plan will give it the breathing room it needs, Bair Chase LLC attorney Jim Lochhead said.The company faced a Sept. 13 deadline for filing the plat.According to its latest plan, Bair Chase, formerly Sanders Ranch, would have 62 single-family lots and 168 multifamily units surrounding an 18-hole golf course.County planning director Mark Bean told the commissioners Tuesday the company requested the extension “due to financing issues.”The development has been fraught with problems since its inception in the mid-1990s. Originally, Sanders Ranch developer George Hanlon went to the commissioners with a plan for 500 houses and 700,000 square feet of commercial space. The plan was turned down by the county commissioners in the face of strong public outcry.Bair Chase Property Development LLC purchased the 280-acre ranch in 2000 and scaled back the plan, eliminating the commercial component and reducing the number of home lots.This summer, earthwork began on the ranch, apparently before permanent financing was in place. A historic barn on the property was also leveled, sparking public outcry. Commissioner Trési Houpt questioned Lochhead about the excavating work. “There’s been quite a bit of concern about the huge amount of earth (moved)” and the loss of the property for wintering elk, she said.Commissioner John Martin expressed displeasure over the razing of the barn. “I was disappointed with the destruction of the barn and the (old ranch) home … and that pasture will never come back,” he said.However, he said he would support the extension because of all the local people, including Lochhead, who have invested in the project.A few weeks after excavating began, work ground to a halt when the developer could not pay contractors.Earthwork on the golf course has resumed, Lochhead told the commissioners, “but the balance of the development is on hold pending permanent financing.”Excavation contractors are being paid through a construction bridge loan, Lochhead said. He said financing should be available within a few months.Also on hold is purchase of the Sopris Restaurant by Bair Chase LLC. The restaurant will give access to the development at its north end. Sopris owner Kurt Wigger stands to gain $1.35 million in the deal, which was supposed to close Aug. 16.”The Sopris is under contract and scheduled to close. We’re working hard to finalize it. We’re hoping to close next week,” Lochhead said.Lochhead said Bair Chase is also obligated to pay a cash penalty for every day the closing is postponed.Wigger planned to shut the restaurant at the end of August but has kept it open pending the closing. He’s said if the deal doesn’t go down by Sept. 13 he’ll close the restaurant, which opened in 1974, for two weeks for cleaning and to hire staff, and then reopen at the end of the month.The commissioners approved the Bair Chase request and gave it until Sept. 13, 2006, to file a final plat.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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