The news spread fast as Granby Ranch announced its intent to sell the property in the fall of 2017. After 22 years, the Ciprianis were putting the ranch up for sale to enjoy life and start anew, but now, two years later, and 70 prospective buyers that have come and gone, the family is forced to hand over the property deed to the lending company.
“This has been a challenging period for us all,” Marise Cipriani wrote in a letter delivered to the Town of Granby’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday night, which was the town’s deadline for her providing money for road repairs in her resort community. “My family, the Granby Ranch employees and I have given more than 20 years of our lives, through many ups and downs, to the realization of the vision for Granby Ranch. It is now time for a new chapter to be written under new ownership.”
Dustin Lombard, CFO for Granby Ranch, said, “Granby Ranch Amenities (GRA) is a separate company from Granby Realty Holdings (GRH). While ownership of the real estate holdings will change, the resort portion of the Ranch will continue to operate as usual”, adding to his email statement, “Our team is looking forward to a wonderful & exciting 2019-2020 season.”
The Cipriani letter also stated, “Granby Prentice LLC will be responsible for all decisions relating to the future of the property. We will continue to work cooperatively with them to assist in a smooth transition.”
Granby Prentice is a Delaware-based company that loaned the resort $55.84 million in April 2016, a month after the company formed. In the letter to town trustees, Cipriani said she was in the final stages of a sale to a Denver-based development firm when Granby Prentice “declined to proceed with a sale on terms acceptable to the buyer.”
The Granby Ranch Ski Resort and Golf Course are under a lease purchase agreement that has been in place for over a decade and for which the homeowners have paid millions of dollars towards purchase. Pursuant to that lease purchase agreement, management for the amenities contract was awarded to Granby Ranch Amenities LLC (GRA) for $12,000 per year, a company the Cipriani family controls. Melissa Cipriani, CEO for Granby Ranch, confirmed operational details stating, “Nothing will change in regards to the operations – opening day is Friday and we are geared up to have an amazing winter season!”
For nearly two years, Granby Realty Holdings LLC (GRH) was on the market, but recently the listing had been removed and rumors of a pending sale circulated around the community, but no official confirmation of a sale was ever announced.
At Tuesday nights Granby Board of Trustees meeting, Mayor Paul Chavoustie read the letter in its entirety stating in part, “Granby Realty Holdings LLC’s lender, Granby Prentice LLC has indicated that it intends to take back the Granby Ranch property that serves as collateral for its loan. We expect that Granby Prentice LLC will shortly take title to the property, and as the owner, they will assume all obligations that run with the land.”
The Cipriani Family bought the struggling SilverCreek Ski Area for $12 million in September 1995, changed the name and embarked on a property development venture that was in need of some major overhauls. The property had fallen into receivership after the developmental founders were killed in a plane crash at Granby Airport. The plane crash took place nine years prior to the Cipriani purchase.
Marise Cipriani, manager of Granby Realty Holdings LLC, made these comments in a Winter Park Times interview two years ago. “We have come a long way since 1995. We have faced many challenges, large and small. With lessons learned, we have accomplished a lot, beginning with vesting the entitlements and annexing into the Town of Granby. We continued to evolve as we built a golf course, ski area improvements, community trails, the Ranch Hall and other major backbone infrastructure. We also worked to secure water rights and completed a water augmentation plan. We assessed the needs of our growing population and elected to donate land for a medical center, recreational center, and affordable housing. We funded the Recreation, Open Space and Housing Foundation, and we established the Grand Enterprise Initiative, which supported existing companies and helped to create 66 new businesses in Grand County along with 120 new jobs. Most importantly, Granby Ranch has grown to more than six hundred families in a community that will eventually have more than four thousand homes.” Marise added, “There is much to be proud of.”
Granby Ranch has faced a series of financial struggles since the recession of 2009, which undoubtedly played a role with potential investors. One of the biggest problems facing an investor is the road repair work that needs immediate attention. Granby Ranch has identified about $3 million in necessary road repairs and has $1.7 million in performance guarantee bonds to work with. After GRH delayed those projects several times, saying a potential buyer was close to signing a deal that would include payment for road repair, the town set a deadline of December 10th to increase the bonds for the repairs or the town could call the bond or put a lien on the resort’s properties.
At the final Trustee meeting of the year Tuesday night, after the letter was read, Mayor Chavoustie explained this means GRH was going back to the lender. “Deed in lieu of foreclosure. The owner signs over rights,” he said. “I would like to see a motion to 1) call the bonds; and, 2) restrict sales, building permits and Certificates of Occupancy on GRH-owned property and direct our attorneys to ensure the reimbursement agreement is in place.”
The board unanimously approved a motion to call the bonds and moved to restrict sales, building permits and certificates of occupancy for Granby Realty Holdings and any successors. Scott Krobb, the attorney for the Granby Town Board, will put together the reimbursement agreement.
Granby Ranch VP of Development, Lance Badger, told the trustees, “We do not know anything more than this letter. The amenities will continue through the end of ski season.”
Chavoustie said he met with two potential buyers of the property in the last year. “It is unfortunate that the deal fell through but I think this is good for the development and it’s the right thing for the project.” Granby Prentice is joining with California-based real estate investment firm Pacific Coast Capital Partners to manage the resort property. “This is a multi-billion-dollar company that will own it, and they have more resources if they choose to develop it, or if they find a development partner. In the end, this is a positive for the community, having a new well capitalized buyer in place” said Chavoustie.