“A clean, clear opportunity to control those 23 acres…”
How much is the town of Crested Butte willing to pay for absolute control of some acreage in the corridor between town and Mt. Crested Butte? A longtime local ranching family has offered the town of Crested Butte the exclusive opportunity to purchase 23 acres of undeveloped land north of town for $6.5 million.
The property is owned by the Spann Family Ranches and located next to the Moon Ridge subdivision, just beyond the proposed Foothills of Crested Butte annexation property. It wraps around the Crested Butte cemetery and includes about a seven-acre parcel along Highway 135 in front of and south of the cemetery.
The Foothills developers originally had the property under a contract option but have since let that option expire. “There is absolutely no tie between us and the Foothills developers,” Ken Spann explained to the Town Council at its Monday night meeting.
Starting out by showing the council a photo taken from the property in 1950, Spann represented the ranch. Not a single home site was seen in the photograph, which if taken now would show homes in the Moon Ridge, Silver Sage and Skyland subdivisions. “This is a reminder to all of us that things change,” Spann said.
Spann said his family felt that the town could control the land with a third party paying for it through a potential annexation like the Foothills. “The town has since lost the opportunity to control those 23 acres in that manner,” he said. “We are livestock people and we are your neighbors. We hope you think we as ranchers are doing our share for open space in the valley. But the functional utility for that piece of land as a livestock parcel is about gone.”
Spann indicated he had been approached by others looking to purchase the property. But he said that several years ago he had made a commitment to former town manager Bill Crank and former mayor Jim Schmidt. “Our family made a commitment to the town to offer that ground first to the town, and I’m here tonight to honor that commitment. Our offer to the town is the right to buy that land for $6.5 million, together with a one-third interest in Moon Ridge Lane and associated water spring rights.
The offer is open for 60 days until Friday, October 16 at 5 p.m.
“You now have a clean, clear opportunity to control those 23 acres,” Spann continued. “It’s a yes or no deal. We invite you to engage the community in the next 60 days with real, serious, meaningful discussions. We will meet at your call. It’s a straight-up offer honoring a commitment we made a long time ago. We think it is a reasonable and fair offer for the current marketplace and we can structure it to make it work. It is straight-up business. If you want it, fine. If not, that’s okay, too. We’d appreciate the courtesy of a reply. This is a generational offer from our family.”
Spann pointed out that the ranching family had spent many generations in the valley, so the funds would likely be spent locally. “We aren’t going anywhere,” he said.
The council appeared a little stunned at the offer. Town manager Susan Parker and town planner John Hess were both out of town for the meeting.
“If we make the deal, do we get that photograph?” asked mayor Alan Bernholtz.
Councilperson Margot Levy clarified with Spann that the town could partner with other entities, such as the Crested Butte Land Trust, to make a deal happen.
“That is up to you,” said Spann. “It is a challenge and I understand that. We are willing to work with you to structure something that could work for everyone.”
The council promised Spann a reply before the 60-day window expired.
The Foothills annexation developers had apparently paid the Trampe Ranch $15 million for 44 acres, or about $340,909 an acre. The Spann proposal amounts to about $282,609 an acre.
On Tuesday, Spann reiterated that it was a serious offer and said the council members had responded in a polite and courteous manner. As for arriving at the $6.5 million price, “We discounted what we previously had it under contract for,” he explained. “We see that the real estate market has gone down. We’ve been patient for a long time and times change. It is what it is.”
A letter from the Spanns to the community explaining the proposal is on page 5 of the Crested Butte News.
According to Crested Butte finance director Lois Rozman, the town’s open space fund currently has $1,275,000 in available funds.
Bernholtz on Tuesday said the offer was an interesting one. “I think it’s great that the Spanns are honoring their commitment to the community, and I think it is an interesting opportunity for the community,” he said. “I’m interested to see how the community reacts and to see how they value the property, both intrinsically and financially.”
At the end of the regular council meeting Monday night, the council went into an executive session to preliminarily discuss the offer.