New company planning to finish condo project

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— A publicly traded timeshare resort company based in Washington state has purchased a significant portion of the Village

at Steamboat condominiums, including undeveloped land that could be used for expansion. Trendwest Resort Inc.

of Redmond, Wash., announ-

ced Friday the purchase of 30 condominiums in the newest of two buildings that comprise the Village at Steamboat.

The deal also includes "entitled" land that already has approvals in place for more condo buildings.

The seller was Sun Terra/Signature resorts, which acquired the property from Vacation Internationale in late 1997.

Sun Terra/Signature completed 40 new condominiums in the first phase of a building project that began construction in 1998 and finished in 1999. The 30 condos that were sold to Trendwest are in the new building.

Sun Terra retained ownership of 10 of the new condos to fulfill its contracts with timeshare buyers, as well as the original 24-unit building at the Village at Steamboat, said Deborah Armstrong, assistant resort manager.

Trendwest spokeswoman Catherine Farmer said Monday there is no timetable for construction of additional buildings.

Trendwest is associated with WorldMark, which issues vacation credits to about 102,000 owners at 37 locations in the western United States, Hawaii, British Columbia, Mexico and Fiji.

Farmer said other ski resorts where Trendwest and WorldMark have resort properties include Whistler, British Columbia; Tahoe, Calif.; Wolf Creek, Utah; and Leavenworth, Wash.

The original building at the Village at Steamboat was built in 1984, when the project was known as the Golden Triangle. At that time, the city of Steamboat Springs approved up to 300 condo units in 14 buildings, plus 14,000 square feet of commercial space and an 11,000-square-foot amenity building.

The amenity building and the first 24 condos were built in the mid-80s before the real estate market here entered a slump.

When Signature Resorts acquired the project in 1997, company officials told the city of ambitious plans to finish the development but at a lower density than the original approvals from the 1980s.

City Council approved new twin buildings in a V-shape that would have added about 80 units to the project. The first of those two buildings was completed. Ground has not been broken on the second.

Trendwest President and CEO Bill Pears said in a prepared statement this week that entry into the Steamboat market provides an opportunity for WorldMark owners to access another year-round vacation destination.

The company got its start in the early 1980s when a Klamath Falls, Ore., window and door maker, Jeld-Wen, decided to get into the timeshare business.

Trendwest owners invest in credits that they can exchange for stays in various vacation properties. Two years ago, the average purchase at Trendwest was $8,477. The company targets middle-class customers and sells to them on an installment plan.

To get capital for purchasing new properties, Trendwest "securitizes" its receivables and sells them on the secondary market.

"Eighty percent of our customers buy sight unseen, so we don't need to impress them with a lot of extra things they're not going to use anyhow," Pears told one magazine writer.

"We've always said we're going to build the best Oldsmobile in the country. We really stay focused on our original strategy."

Armstrong said longtime Village at Steamboat resort manager Jim Sprengle left the company prior to the sale to take a position with another local property management company.

Former assistant resort manager Andre Elkins was promoted to Sprengle's old post, and Armstrong was promoted from human resource manager to assistant resort manager.

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