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The billionaire is buying a small town in Colorado – and the locals are scared
Photo illustration from The Daily Beast / Getty The Crested Butte mountain neighborhood, Colorado, spans less than a square mile and is almost 9,000 feet higher than it is wide. So when the Chicago-based billionaire began quietly buying his historic buildings, residents took note. “I was worried that someone would come in and buy so much commercial property in the community,”
; former Gunison County Commissioner Jim Starr told The Daily Beast. “It simply came to our notice then. We have few owners who own two or three different commercial properties. But the scale of this was larger than we had seen before. “The billionaire in question is investment banker Mark Walter. Extremely unfavorable to the media, the CEO of Guggenheim Partners has amassed a net worth of about $ 5.3 billion, according to Forbes, with little fanfare. His most public move came in 2012, when Walter joined forces with Magic Johnson and several other entertainment figures to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers for a record $ 2.15 billion. But Walter’s activities in Crested Butte attracted a lot of local attention from its population of about 4,700. This year alone, Walter bought six commercial properties, including several historic downtown buildings and a family resort called Almont, located at the crossroads of the East River. and Taylor. Walter closed deals with limited liability companies registered at his official address in Chicago. “He was a lot – I wouldn’t say ‘secret’, but he certainly didn’t expect what he would do with the buildings,” Crested Butte Mayor Jim Schmidt told The Daily Beast. Broker Eric Roemer echoed the awkward feeling, “No one really knows what his game plan is.” Zuckerberg swallows another large part of the Hawaiian coast “I have no idea what Mr. Walter is planning to do,” Gunnison County writer and resident George Sibley said, “and I don’t think anyone else is doing it – possibly including Mr. Walter.” Among his new investments, Walter acquired a $ 1.55 million building called the Forest Queen, a commercial property containing a spa and a tattoo shop. for $ 1.85 million, a restaurant called Wooden Nickel for $ 1.85 million, a health club for $ 1.7 million, an unbuilt lot for $ 5.5 million, and the resort for $ 6.3 million. In total, the new purchases amounted to more than $ 20 million. Walter did not respond to numerous requests for comment. It’s kind of like a model for him; in a statement to Crested Butte News, local writer Mark Riemann described contacting the CEO’s broker to see if he could discuss future plans. “After she finished laughing,” Reaman writes, “she actually pointed out that I probably had a better chance of getting Donald Trump to chat with me about Almont.” Even Roemer, who owned Wood Nickel before Walter bought it, said he was unable to obtain any information about the plans. “The only thing his representatives have told us is that, at least with Wood Nickel, he is interested in continuing the operation as it has been so far,” Roemer said. “Currently, no one knows if it has been modified. But he plans to open the business by the end of May. “The purchases left Schmid a little confused, as commercial properties in ski towns can make the economy difficult. Typically, he said, commercial buildings are sold at about three times the price of local homes. But in high-end ski regions, where homes are becoming so expensive, math can make it harder for smaller businesses to make a profit. “You’ll have to charge too much for burgers,” he said. “That’s the challenge.” The remaining question for residents is what Walter will do with the undeveloped land at the northern end of town aimed at the ski slopes. The sprawling property, known locally as the Sixth Street Station, was approved as a massive hotel and residential building in 2017. According to Schmidt, it would be the largest hotel in Crested Butte. But it remains unclear whether Walter plans to continue with the construction project. Walter has had a quiet presence in the Creste But area for the past decade. He and his wife owned a home in the nearby town of Mt. Crested Butte since 2009, and in 2011 he bought a shopping mall known as the Grubstake Building for $ 766,700. Grubstake housed a teahouse, a café, an art gallery, and a fishing shop that Walter actively maintained. For a time, the CEO went through a local process to allow the building to become a place for music and dance. According to Starr and Schmidt, he later backed his plans to pay the city a one-time street parking fee. “He didn’t like the parking fees instead, which we apply to all businesses,” Schmid said. “Honestly, I was a little surprised that he thought the amount was excessive, given what he pays in the third thread for the Dodgers.” Some time ago, the city had an advertising slogan: “Crested Butte – what Aspen uses to be, and Vale has never been. “The joke was that Crested Butt was ‘the last great ski town in Colorado’ that had not yet been bought by even wealthier outsiders looking for a seasonal stay. But some residents are worried that Walter’s investment could change that. “One of the concerns, of course, is that when people have more such commercial properties, rents tend to rise, which makes it difficult for business owners,” Star said. “And here we have a really serious shortage of affordable housing, so But Sibyl pointed out that Walter had followed a long line of wealthy investors coming to Colorado. “There wouldn’t even be cities in Colorado if it weren’t for foreign money,” he said. he cited some Kansas bankers who had invested in the Crested Butte ski slopes and a Texas refining company that operated a nearby mine. fuels and iron price Kolo | glad to be in Pueblo, ”Sibley said. “So it’s always been a wholly owned subsidiary of outsiders.” But Walter’s investment could trigger a wave of a new strain of outsiders. “I’ve heard people say, ‘We’ve reached a point where billionaires are pushing millionaires out,'” Starr said, “which many of us who have lived here for a long time hoped would never happen. 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