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Aspen estate fetches $31.5 million

This 44-acre estate recently sold for $31.5 million, the biggest Aspen deal this year

A low-profile Chicago billionaire recently paid $31.5 million for a 44-acres estate in Aspen, the top sale so far this year in the ritzy resort

The Aspen brokers who handled the sale – buyer’s broker, Steven Shane of SDS Real Estate and listing broker, Joshua Saslove of Joshua & Co. – declined to identify the buyer. The sale closed last Friday.

The Wall Street Journal, however, in a report today said the buyer was Chris Reyes. J. Christopher Reyes, with his brother, Jude, heads Reyes Holdings, a $12 billion in sales, privately held food- and beer-distributor company in the Chicago area. An official at the company told InsideRealEstateNews this morning that Reyes was traveling and not available for comment.

Not that he was likely to say anything about the Aspen property.

Powerful, but private

In 2005, Crain’s Chicago Business described Reyes as one of “the most powerful business figures in Chicago. He just doesn’t want anyone to know it.”

Forbes magazine recently estimated his net worth at $1.9 billion. He was a director on the Tribune Co. from 2005 to 2007, but resigned from the board soon after it was purchased by Chicago real estate investor Sam Zell and a year before it filed for bankruptcy.

Reyes Holdings, based in Rosemont, Ill., a nearby suburb of Chicago, is the 25th largest privately held company in the U.S. It employs 10,300.

It distributes more than 406 million cases of beer and food-service brands from more than 90 warehouses in the U.S., Canada, Ireland, Puerto Rico, and Central and South America. The Reyes Beverage Group delivers beer to more than 26,000 accounts in the U.S. Another division, Martin-Brower Co., serves 9,600 McDonald’s in the U.S., Canada, Ireland and Latin America. In addition, Reinhart FoodService has more than 40,000 customers in 37 states.

Aspen Grove Properties LLC officially purchased the Aspen estate, known as West Buttermilk Ranch. It was sold by WBR Associates LLC of Woodside, Calif., whose principal is Bob Zangrillo, founder of Z Capital, a private equity firm.

The home initially had been listed at $60 million, but the price then had been cut to $47.5 million before it sold for 33.6 percent less than the most recent asking price.

Shane, the buyer’s broker, called the $31.5 million price “is a good deal for the buyer, and a fair deal for the seller. How many buyers are out there who can write a check for north of $31 million?”

Legacy property

“We were looking for a legacy property; a property that could remain in his family for years,” said the buyer broker Shane, who emphasized he would provide no details regarding the buyer.

“He’s obviously very private,” Shane said. “He bought it through a limited liability company. Unlike some brokers, I protect my client’s wishes for privacy, even after the closing.”

Saslove, the listing broker, also made it clear he would not discuss anything about the buyer. But he said the buyer now owns a one-of-a-kind property.

“It is truly a spectacular, private site that is in a class by itself,” Saslove said.

Shane added that even in Aspen, there are not many properties out there like this one.

“This property was different from others, in the respect that it sits on 44 acres,” Shane said. “There are not that many superior homes on that type of acreage, with these dramatic views, with a close-in proximity to downtown Aspen. I would say it is a 10 to 15-minute drive to downtown. All of the elements we were interested in were found in this property.”

The estate includes a 13,877-square-foot main house with two master suites, four guest suites, five baths, and four half baths. It even has a two-bedroom caretaker apartment. It was designed by Aspen architect Rob Sinclair. Joseph Krabacher, of the Aspen office of Sherman & Howard law firm, handled the legal transaction for Zangrillo.

In addition, it includes:

• A 4,517-square-foot, eight-stall horse stable

• A 1,112-square-foot guest house with two bedrooms and a one bath

• A great room with a large fireplace, “old-world” wood, steel beams and large plank floor. A bar and service area for entertaining.

• A private office with fireplace, bath, shower and deck.

• A private guest-with with three bedrooms

• A downstairs media room and a wine room with a tasting table.

Bullish sign for Aspen, economy

Both Shane and broker Saslove said the sale is a good sign for the Aspen and the economy.

“I think that this sale is a commentary on people with the wherewithal are now buying, while previously they may have been on the sidelines,” Shane said. “They are seeing value at the high-end of the market and want to take advantage of current prices for these properties. This was not a distressed sale by any stretch.”

Saslove, who also emphasized he would not talk about the buyer, had similar comments on the significance of the sale.

“It is an indicator, No. 1, that there are buyers out there,” Saslove. “No. 2, buyers who have this kind of wealth are able to make the choices where they want what they want. A purchase of this magnitude also is an indicator of the faith in the economy and specifically faith in the Aspen market.”

Saslove said this deal continues a streak for Joshua & Co. “For five years in a row now, our has sold the highest priced real estate each year in Aspen,” Saslove said.

Indeed, high-end sales by Joshua & Co. that eclipsed the latest one in price include:

  • The historic Hotel Jerome in downtown Aspen in 2007 for $55 million.
  • Mandalay Ranch in 2004 for $46 million.
  • Crystal Island Ranch in 2006 for $47 million.
  • A home on Red Mountain in 2009 for $43 million.

Contact John Rebchook at JRCHOOK@gmail.com