GRANBY RANCH BEING LISTED FOR SALE
Brazilian developer, who bought struggling property in ’95, says it’s time “to move on”
Brazilian developer Marise Cipriani, who bought the ski and golf resort in 1995, says it’s time “to move on.”
Marise Cipriani, the owner of Granby Ranch, is listing her 5,000-acre Grand County ski and golf resort community for sale.
Cipriani turned 60 on Sept. 28. On the same day in 1995, the Brazilian developer finalized the $12.5 million deal to buy the struggling property, which was then called Silver Creek and had languished in bankruptcy court for eight years.
She had grand plans back then, proposing a $100 million four-season resort that would cater to families. After spending millions securing water rights, developing a golf course and facilities, improving the ski area, building trails and selling more than 500 of a planned 4,300-plus homes, Cipriani said, “It’s time for me to move on.”
“It hasn’t been easy, but on the other hand, it’s been very rewarding. I love the vision of it. I really can see that somebody can take it now to the next level,” she said. “Granby Ranch has to exist beyond me.”
The trials were plentiful over the past two decades. It took about six years to figure out water and relationships with the Town of Granby. She worked with the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service for federal land within her property. She installed infrastructure, upgraded the ski area and built
a base village, developed a golf course and sold homes and condos. She changed the name from Silver Creek to SolVista, then to Granby Ranch. She closed the historic Berthoud Pass ski area in 2001, citing financial struggles and the cost of redeveloping the base lodge on the mountain pass.
The 2008 recession hit Granby Ranch hard, as it did for most luxury mountain communities. Grand County took a while to recover, but the resort-anchored county is roaring back with several new construction projects in downtown Winter Park, Fraser and Granby.
Even with the recovery finally sparking renewed interest in Granby Ranch, last year was the hardest for Cipriani.
Last December, a mechanical issue with a Ski Granby Ranch chairlift threw 40-year-old Kelly Huber and her two kids from the lift, killing the Texas mom and injuring her children. The Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board concluded that recent changes to the electrical control system of the Quickdraw Express caused rapid speed changes in the “unprecedented” event that caused the Huber family’s chair to slam a lift tower. It was the first-ever fatality at Granby Ranch.
“There is not one single day where I don’t think about the family,” Cipriani said. “You know how people are, they were telling me ‘You are going to be sued.’ I said I don’t know, but that’s not the point. The point is how hard this is for the family.”
Last month, Grand County sheriff’s deputies briefly seized resort properties at the ski area and golf course, citing unpaid property taxes by the resort’s Granby Realty Holdings and Granby Amenities. Cipriani called it “a misunderstanding.” Her team, which includes her daughter Melissa as resort CEO, paid more than $104,000 in back taxes in early October and another $382,000 on Oct. 19.
Don’t ask Cipriani if she would do it all over again. The answer to that question doesn’t matter because it changes nothing, she said.
“For me, I think about what lessons I have learned, and definitely there is a huge lesson of endurance and resilience,” she said. “Those are the things I personally take from this. There are more than 600 homeowners here now and none when I bought it.”
Cipriani has enlisted CBRE to market the property. She doesn’t have a price yet. But ski resorts have been trading lately for prices well beyond traditional multiples of earnings.
The Granby Ranch property — more than 5,000 acres with a 400-acre ski area, three miles of private fly-fishing along the Fraser River, an 18-hole golf course, 40 miles of hiking and bike trails, and approvals allowing for more than 1 million square feet of commercial space and 4,349 more homes — “can be looked at many different ways,” Cipriani said.
For now, Cipriani hopes to spend more time with her husband, Celso, a businessman who still lives in Brazil and commutes to their Boulder home. She sees Granby Ranch as “poised for great growth and opportunity.”