Jensens aim to rebuild dream after setback
Dr. Dave Jensen and his wife, Dee, have been stung by the recession as severely as anyone in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Financial troubles struck the couple at the most inopportune time, right after they accumulated a mountain of debt to launch the WIN Institute, a center of integrated health and alternative medicine in Basalt. The Jensens lost the 33,620-square-foot WIN Health Center building to foreclosure earlier this year and they were forced into personal bankruptcy.
Jensen said he realized within six months after opening the WIN in spring 2008 that he was in a tough financial position. Alpine Bank wouldn’t convert their construction loan to a standard mortgage, so they were saddled with an interest rate at 8 percent and a monthly payment significantly higher than their business plan anticipated.
“We tried to keep the cookie from crumbling,” Jensen said. “Unfortunately, I was attached to a dream.”
The financial blow shrunk their dream rather than killed it. Dr. Jensen, a chiropractor, opened a much smaller office in Basalt in late July. They are essentially starting from scratch.
They once had 62 employees. Now they have four, including themselves – not that the doctor is complaining. He sounded almost relieved in a recent interview to shed the responsibilities and headaches of a larger, faster-paced office.
“What I’m trying to do is get back to small-town health care,” Jensen said. He specializes in back pain and sports injuries. One of the motto they are using is “back in action.”
Customers have noticed a difference. Jensen used to have patients lined up and he would breeze through appointments. Now, one patient noted after a recent visit, he took more time with her.
Jensen’s primary office is adjacent to Saxy’s Cafe in Basalt, but he also holds regular hours at Aspen Back and Body in Aspen and the Valley Wellness Center in Glenwood Springs.
The Jensens plan to gradually grow their business again. They want to expand into the entire ground floor of the building where they are renting to offer massage and a variety of integrated health care.
Dee got choked up talking about how their initial dream that crumbled. It would have been a “flagship” facility for health care, she said. They will recover from the financial hardships they faced, she said, but the loss of their dream hurts.
Dr. Jensen acknowledged that other people suffered “collateral damage” from the WIN Institute’s failure. Other doctors and business associates were tied to the plan, he said.
Most people have been understanding about the financial troubles. The Jensens said they received an outpouring of support after reopening. Clients told them they were glad they didn’t leave the valley.
“The good far outweighs the bad,” Dr. Jensen said.
One sore spot is an on-going dispute between the Jensens and Jon Jiles, an Oklahoma City businessman who purchased the former WIN building from Alpine Bank in a distress sale. Jiles paid $4 million for the building, about half of the amount the bank said the Jensens were indebted.
Jiles initially talked to the Jensens about buying into the WIN, but no deal could be arranged. Then the Jensens worked on a deal to rent space at their former building from Jiles starting July 1 to continue the chiropractic office and maintain a slice of the WIN vision. They said that deal soured because Jiles abruptly demanded back rent, including from time when Alpine Bank was the owner. The Jensens refused.
Scott Bayens, a real estate agent who brokered Jiles’ purchase of the building, said the Jensens’ version of events “are not true.”
“My client bent over backwards to accommodate them,” Bayens said. “After going rogue for more than a month, they came back begging to rent the space. Jon not only agreed to negotiate, he was willing to release them from other financial obligations as well – two things he didn’t have to do.”
A deal wasn’t consummated because the Jensens planned to file personal bankruptcy, according to Bayens. Jiles didn’t want to be in a line of creditors waiting for payment of rent, Bayens said.
The dispute escalated after the negotiations crumbled. Jiles placed a landlord’s lien on the Jensens’ space. Bayens said his client was out “thousands of dollars. “It was his right under the terms of the lease to keep all of the Jensen’s personal belongings,” Bayens claimed.
Jiles accused the Jensens of allegedly illegally entering the building and removing items, including a mantle bolted to the fireplace and tiles installed in the wall. A complaint was filed with the Basalt Police Department. No charges were pursued because police believe it is a civil court matter and the Jensens returned items. It’s unknown if the fight is headed to court.
Jiles is attempting to fill the building with new tenants.
The Jensens are attempting to rebuild their dream.
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