The Little Nell Hotel Group, a division of Aspen Skiing Company, has purchased the seven-acre lot that sits between the Westin Monache and Lake Mary Road above Canyon Boulevard.
In the middle ages, sometime around 2006, a development group led by former Dallas Cowboys football star Roger Staubach announced plans for a Ritz Carlton hotel at the site. The Great Recession nixed that bid.
The property was sold to The Little Nell Hotel Group by Cerberus Capital Management.
Mammoth Land Co. was the local LLC it operated under.
The company hired Mammoth local Dave Harvey to shepherd the property through Mammoth’s Planning Commission and Town Council in 2015 and 2016 to extend and amend a development agreement and entitlements through 2021.
According to a press release, “The intent by The Little Nell Hotel Group (TLNHG) is to develop a Limelight-branded hotel and residences to complement its existing owned and managed portfolio.
Since being formally introduced in January 2019, this is the first land purchase made by TLNHG, which is actively seeking acquisition and development opportunities in and out of mountain markets.
With this purchase, we also look forward to being an engaged member of the Mammoth Lakes community, and are committed to developing a property which supports the community’s values and aspirations,” says Alinio Azevedo, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, The Little Nell Hotel Group.
Editor’s note: I’m glad Mr. Azevedo is familiar with the community’s values and aspirations. I’ve lost track of what they are.
“We really like Mammoth as a market and it has the right elements to make for a successful development, including a strong feeder market in Southern California and recent and forthcoming investments by Mammoth Mountain,” Azevedo told the Aspen Times in a story which appeared September 20.
*He must love the escalator at Canyon.
Former Mammoth Mayor Shields Richardson was a bit more plain-spoken and direct in his assessment.
“Mammoth is the last major resort that hasn’t been brought up to current standards,” he said. “They see huge opportunity here.”
“There also will be associated commercial development. A Limelight Lounge will be a ‘signature amenity,’ just as it is with the other Limelight hotels,” Azevedo also remarked to the Aspen Times.
TLNHG’s development team will next begin the design and approval processes – further updates will be provided when ready.
The Little Nell Hotel Group’s portfolio of owned and operated hotels and residences currently consists of The Little Nell, Aspen’s only Five-Star, Five-Diamond, ski-in/ski-out hotel, and its affiliated Residences at The Little Nell, both located at the base of Aspen Mountain; and the upscale Limelight Hotel Aspen and Limelight Hotel Snowmass in Colorado, as well as the Limelight Hotel Ketchum near Sun Valley in Idaho. The Company also owns and operates two mountain clubs (the Aspen Mountain Club and the Snowmass Mountain Club).
A little history
From Katie Vane’s coverage of the Mammoth Planning and Economic Development Commission in December, 2015.
According to Town Associate Planner Ruth Traxler, the tentative tract map for the original project was approved in 2006. At that time, the Hillside Project was proposed to be a two-phase development. Phase one would be a 325-bedroom condominium hotel with understructure parking for 259 vehicles, and would include a spa, pool, and patio with meeting facilities, restaurant and bar. Phase two was proposed as a town-home development with 107 bedrooms. The original applicant proposed an additional 36 bedrooms of affordable housing to be allocated in both phase one and phase two. By doing so, the project met the North Village Specific Plan (NVSP) requirement for affordable housing mitigation, and qualified for a 35 percent state density bonus.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Commissioners considered a time extension request for the project brought forth by applicant Dave Harvey, who began working on Hillside in 2010. The extension request would give the project another five years, or until January of 2021, to break ground.
Commissioners approved this request unanimously, although Town staff cautioned that should the project fail to come to fruition by 2021, the project’s application process would begin all over again.
Also on the table for consideration by Commissioners were several amendments to the project’s original use permits. Traxler explained that staff had determined the Town should no longer require the Hillside project to be a four- or five-star resort. Staff also determined that neither the Town nor NVSP require a pedestrian bridge from the Hillside project across Canyon Blvd. to the Gondola building and Village Plaza. The project can also now pay affordable housing mitigation in-lieu fees (agreed upon at $5.6 million in 2008) rather than provide on-site housing.
Finally, staff concluded that Hillside and 80|50 must work out a private parking arrangement that would reserve 50 of the total Hillside parking spaces for 80|50’s use.
These changes were intended to remove “barriers to development and financing,” said Traxler.
Commissioners questioned the removal of the pedestrian bridge, which many see as a necessity for the Village. But according to Traxler, while the bridge was referenced in 2006 project documents, neither the Town nor NVSP ever required it as part of the project.