The news spread fast as Granby Ranch announced its intent to sell the property over a year ago.
After 22 years, the Ciprianis were putting ‘The Ranch’ up for sale to enjoy life and start anew.
The Cipriani Family bought SilverCreek Ski Area and 5000 acres on September 28th 1995, changed the name and embarked on a property development that was in need of some major overhauls. After the previous owners were killed in a plane crash at Granby Airport, the property fell into receivership and it is reported the family purchased the ranch for $12 million dollars.
Marise Cipriani, owner of Granby Ranch, commented, “We have come a long way since 1995. We have faced many challenges, large and small. We have accomplished a lot”. The Granby Ranch community has grown to over six hundred families and may eventually have more than four thousand homes. Marise added, “There is much to be proud of. This has been my passion for more than 20 years.”
I spoke with Melissa Cipriani, who declined to comment on the sale or ongoing financial litigation, stating “A transaction of this type takes time and we do not want to disclose the details until the deal is final, but if it stays on track we expect to close by mid-February”, adding that they are working through the financial pieces to satisfy the debt on the property. Rumors of a forbearance agreement between an alternate lendor (US Bank) were laid to rest by Melissa Cipriani on Wednesday, saying, “we cleaned that up last year”.
The finances behind the property have created a wave of rumors regarding the pending sale, as news of a Writ of Attachment complaint was filed last month in Denver District Court by Cipriani’s sister, Valeria Pereira Fontana. According to court documents, Fontana’s Bahamian corporation, Pineapple Company Corp, supplied collateral for Cipriani to secure a loan in 2013. It’s unclear how much the loan was for, but Fontana’s lawsuit says she lost $19.2 million when Cipriani defaulted on the loan in 2015 and, at that time, Marise agreed to repay her sister for the lost collateral by April 2018. That date passed without payment, so Fontana is in the process of suing, to levy an involuntary lien on the property. In the December 2018 court documents,Cipriani’s sister stated “Guimel (one of several companies involved in Granby Ranch Holdings) and Cipriani have repeatedly promised to repay the debt, but have refused to pay, despite repeated demands”.
Financial woes aside, “the Resort is positioned to be one of the best investments in the western US”, according to Lance Badger, Vice President of Development for Granby Ranch. “Grand County is poised to be the next big mountain investment opportunity.” The price point is solid and the amenities we offer are amazing. Badger said, “With the right stewards in place, this can become one of the best family friendly resort communities in Colorado if not the US”.
When asked if the sale is going to move forward, Badger said, “I have met the investors and spent quite a bit of time discussing the vision for the Ranch. We expect the new owners to come in and revitalize the Master Plan, making changes that will give a new look and feel to the property”.
Badger added, “We are setup for success. We have wood to chop and challenges to work through, but the buyers are real and they have a forward thinking approach to the resort’s future”.
Granby Ranch offers unique opportunities for the investor and homeowners. The 5,000 acre property offers family-friendly skiing, golfing, fishing, hiking, and a world class bike park. Couple that with social activities and an active Colorado lifestyle, “you can’t go wrong”, according to Badger.
“Our mission has been to create a community where families and friends can connect, live, play and enjoy the natural environment of the Colorado Rocky Mountains”, said Marise Cipriani. “We have worked hard to foster that atmosphere and development”.
Paul Chavoustie, Mayor of Granby made it clear he has “not” met the potential investors, but said, “Our hope is Granby Ranch finds a sophisticated buyer that has a good real estate mind and understands the operational needs of the amenities the ranch offers”.
Not everyone is happy with the Cipriani legacy. Members of the homeowner’s association board have expressed concerns of the debt they carry and are worried about being stuck with the liability of the road system repairs if the ranch sale falls through and/or the property goes into foreclosure.
The Ranch is setup with a special taxing district to pay for road maintenance, repairs and other needs, and, according to one homeowner, “our mil levy is one of the highest in Grand County, we are worried”. Currently the the Granby Ranch Metro District mill levy is maxed at 66 mills, all mills are currently used for debt service on the bond. HOA fees have been increased to cover snow plowing maintenance.
Badger tells the Winter Park Times “the Ranch has taken measures to repair some of the road system issues”. Recently, engineering work was done by the ranch to develop a cost analysis for the work and bids have gone out to contractors with work to begin this spring. “The engineering analysis came in at about $4.5 million and we are in the process of securing the bonds to cover the work”.
According to Badger, “The road work affects the sale of the property, but the delta created between costs vs completion is the variable”, adding, “at this point, we are working through the process to decide what is best for the new investor”.
Mayor Chavoustie said, “It would great if they could secure a deal with a partner that really knows the business and community.”
The next couple of months should turn a new page on the next chapter of Granby Ranch.