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Sales pending on car dealer’s properties

Dennis WebbGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. The man who helped John Elway get into the car business and a son of ski resort investor George Gillett of Vail are pursuing the purchase of several Glenwood Springs automotive dealerships.Glenwood car dealer Ron Esch sold the real estate associated with his four automotive franchises on Tuesday for about $11.2 million, ending a lender’s foreclosure action against him.Companies with representatives including Rod Buscher and Alex Gillett are continuing to seek manufacturer approvals for the purchase of the franchises themselves. Buscher said Wednesday he expects those approvals to occur within the next 60 days.Buscher said he was founder and president of the car dealer company Elway was involved in opening in 1989. The retired Denver Broncos quarterback and pro football Hall of Fame member and Buscher sold the company in 1998.The Gilletts already own a Subaru, Chrysler and Jeep dealership in Silverthorne, Buscher said. George Gillett once owned the Vail ski resort and later formed a company that owns resorts in several states.Esch’s lender, Falcon Financial, had foreclosed on him in the middle of a dispute over the terms of a loan of about $10 million issued in 2000. The dispute centered on whether Falcon Financial was entitled to a $3.5 million payment if Esch paid off the loan early. Esch sued Falcon Financial over the loan dispute last June.Several scheduled foreclosure auction dates going back to September were postponed while discussions continued between the two parties and sale negotiations took place. Another auction date had been set for Wednesday, and Falcon Financial’s holding company had bid a little more than $11 million for Esch’s properties. Tuesday’s real estate sale allowed for a resolution of the dispute between Esch and Falcon Financial.Garfield County records show a land holding company for Esch’s Glenwood Automotive Group sold its Canyon Honda and Red Mountain Subaru-Nissan real estate for about $2.8 million per property. The properties are at 2602 and 2712 South Grand Ave.Esch’s Two Rivers Chevrolet real estate on Center Drive in West Glenwood was sold for about $5.6 million.The buyer is Glenwood Springs Automotive Real Estate LLC. Also involved in the transaction is Glenwood Springs Automotive Investment LLC and Alex Gillett, county records show. Both companies have the same Vail address.Alpine Bank loaned $7.8 million for the purchase, records show.Buscher is chief executive officer of Summit Automotive Partners, also based in Vail. He said Summit Automotive is pursuing the purchase of other dealerships in cities around the United States.”We have other agreements. We have not closed yet,” he said.He said Summit Automotive’s acquisitions mark his re-entry into the car dealership business after he and Elway sold their dealerships.”We think that Glenwood is a great market and has some terrific dealers that are already there operating. I know many of them,” he said. “… They’re exceptionally good dealers and we just want to be a good member of the community.”Summit Automotive has advertised for employees for the Glenwood locations but also will keep current staff, Buscher said.”We’re going to operate with the existing employees once we close, and give some other people opportunities. We always like to work with the existing staff and then enhance it because our goal is to increase sales and increase customer satisfaction,” he said.Buscher said Esch would not be involved with the new ownership. Esch and his attorney declined comment Wednesday due to confidentiality agreements pertaining to the pending sale.Esch previously has indicated an interest in selling dealerships, acquiring a Cadillac franchise and buying land on Wulfsohn Road in West Glenwood. However, those plans had been stalled until this week because his properties had been held as collateral for the outstanding loan.Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119dwebb@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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