Brazil­ian devel­oper, who bought strug­gling prop­erty in ’95, says it’s time “to move on”

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Ja­son Blevins

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.”

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