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Construction resumes at Highmark condos

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— Construction has resumed on a long dormant luxury condominium project near the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

Workers recently poured concrete at the Highmark (formerly The Chadwick) at the corner of Village Drive and AprÃs Ski Way. Construction began in August 2003 and was suspended the following spring. The original developers said a jump in the cost of building materials from the time they broke ground and pursued building permanents for the aboveground phase of the project disrupted their financing.

The project is going forward under a new ownership group that reports it has spent several million dollars to clear up obligations left by the old ownership. It also reported escrowing $1.25 million in a local title company. Contractors are able to make draws against the escrowed funds, owners representative Steve Cavanagh said this week.

The owners are four investors operating as Mountain View Development. The lead owner, Jeff Arnold, who has a one-quarter stake in the project, was in town this week. He was taking part in a team meeting held to clarify how questions and issues will be resolved as the project goes forward. Mountain View continues to pursue permanent financing on the six-story building, which is at the southwest corner of the intersection across from the Steamboat Ski Area's gondola parking lot. It is directly across AprÃs Ski Way from the Snowflower Condominiums.

Original general contractor Drahota Construction remains in place. Cavanagh said concrete contractors have poured the slab in the underground parking garage and moved on to the ground floor deck, which will house a gourmet deli and grocery and seating.

An application for a building permit for the aboveground phase of the project will be filed this week, Cavanagh said. He took the project back through the city planning process last summer to win permission to change the exterior building materials from what was approved originally. The new materials will include heavy timbers, stucco and metal accents, he said.

The building will be constructed as a "tensioned concrete slab" structure. It is the same process that was used to build the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel about five years ago. Construction on the large hotel continued throughout the winter.

Cavanagh said the same will be true at the Highmark.

"We'll be tenting and working our way up," Cavanagh said.

He added that developers had sought to accelerate the pace of construction this fall, but tight concrete supplies have stymied them.

Arnold and Steve Sarang are principals in the Los Angeles-based company Concord Wilshire Partners. Concord Wilshire is the managing entity for Mountain View, Cavanagh said.

Cavanagh, a former longtime principal in a Northwest Colorado commercial contracting firm, is acting independently as the owner's representative for Highmark's ownership. He said buyers have been identified for 15 of the 23 units in the Highmark. They are different from the 23 people who originally provided earnest money for the Chadwick. One of the challenges in moving the Highmark forward, Cavanagh said, was repaying the original buyers. Their earnest money was not escrowed, he said. Instead, the terms of their agreements allowed the money to be put into the original foundation for the building. Those deposits totaled about $2 million, he said.

Now, the original buyers have been paid off, and the new deposits are being held in a local bank. Also satisfied by the new owners was a sum of $500,000 relating to the original purchase of the building site.

"They've put several millions of cash into this," Cavanagh said.

Cavanagh said marketing efforts for the condominium project have taken place outside Colorado. There are no listings with any local real estate agencies.

He said the units at the Chadwick are expected to be ready for occupancy in the 2006-07 ski season.

-- To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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