The Jewish Resource Center Chabad of Aspen, which planned to purchase Aspen’s Silver Lining Ranch for its new community center, has terminated its contract to buy the property in the face of a legal battle with neighboring homeowners who claim neighborhood covenants don’t allow the religious center on the property.
Attorney Richard Neiley, who represents the Little Start Foundation, which owns the ranch, confirmed that he received a letter from Chabad terminating the purchase contract on Thursday afternoon.
Chabad won approvals from Aspen City Council in May to build a 700-square-foot housing unit on the property and make some changes to the traffic flow pattern around the existing 14,000-square-foot lodge-like building. Chabad had been under contract since last September to purchase the 6.5 acre property for $13.5 million.
On Monday, the Little Star Foundation filed a lawsuit in Pitkin County District Court against the Stillwater Homeowners Association, where Silver Lining Ranch is located, and the homeowners association members. The suit asks a judge to issue an injunction stopping the HOA from threatening litigation, which had prevented Chabad from executing its contract to purchase the property. The deal was originally scheduled to close on June 3.
The lawsuit is “definitely going to go forward, especially now that Chabad has terminated the contract,” said Neiley, adding that he would likely amend the lawsuit complaint.
“It’s an unfortunate turn of events,” Neiley said.
Chabad attorneys and Rabbi Mendel Mintz, who heads Chabad Aspen, could not be reached for comment.