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David Brown sells downtown properties

Residents of Pagosa Springs may have noticed a change in signs marking various vacant lots in town for sale — from BootJack Management to The Pagosa Source.

On June 30, former area resident David Brown sold off all but one of his properties to California developers Ranchwood Homes Corporation.

Brown’s final holding in Pagosa Springs, the Alley House restaurant property, was sold earlier to Marty Rose, a Dallas, Texas, attorney who has resided part time in the Pagosa Springs area since 1998.

Last year, Brown sold his 3,151 acre ranch east of Pagosa Springs for $47 million (originally listed at $88 million) to Texas businessman Kelcy Warren.

According to local Realtor Mike Heraty (who handled the Alley House sale and is the agent on the Ranchwood Homes properties), “He (Brown) sold everything; he is totally divested of his holdings in Pagosa Springs.”

“He still has a lot of heart and soul in Pagosa Springs, though,” Heraty added.

The Ranchwood Homes transaction was listed last month in The SUN. Those listings noted that Brown sold his properties to Pagosa Orchards LLC with a “Statement of Authority” processed between that company and Vineyards 14-18 LLC. The latter company processed a “Statement of Authority” with Ranchwood Homes. What that means is Pagosa Orchards is managed by Vineyards 14-18 which in turn is managed by Ranchwood Homes.

Brown’s properties were sold for $1.35 million. A Deed of Trust filed with the Archuleta County Clerk and Recorder indicated that Pagosa Orchards borrowed $1.6 million from Vineyards 14-18 to complete the deal.

It is unknown if Ranchwood Homes intends to develop the property but the “For Sale” signs would seem to suggest that the purchase was for investment purposes. As of press time Wednesday, representatives from Ranchwood Homes had not returned SUN staff phone calls.

Although Brown put his downtown properties up for sale several years back, a decade ago Brown proposed several developments for the parcels. From high-end boutique lodging to upscale retail space and condominiums, Brown’s proposed developments would have changed the look and feel of the downtown corridor.

For better or worse, those developments never took place. Heraty said that Brown felt hamstrung by the town in his push to develop downtown properties.

“The prolonged approval process took the wind out the sails,” Heraty said. “I felt the process was two to three times more stringent than it would have been for other developments.”

Mark Garcia, Pagosa Springs Town Manager at the time when Brown submitted plans for the developments, stated that he didn’t think economic conditions were as much a factor in the stalled plans for development as much as the politics of the town.

“The lack of leadership,” Garcia said, “I think that was the majority of it.”

The Pagosa Springs Town Council awarded Brown vested rights during a May 2008 meeting for his two proposed downtown developments under Colorado Revised Statute (C.R.S.) Article 68, Title 24, which grants an approved project additional time to begin construction with assurances that local government will not amend its decision on the project during that period. Vested rights essentially assures a developer that changes to codes or regulations enacted during the vesting period do not apply to the development.

By granting vested rights to Brown’s BootJack Management Company (BMC) for the developments, council set a precedent for future development in Pagosa Springs. Indeed, during the following year council approved vested rights (for a period of 20 years each) on two other proposed developments and considered a third 20-year vested rights proposal. The developer of that third proposed project eventually rejected the town’s attempted annexation of property citing, in part, performance benchmark stipulations set forth in the vested rights proposal.

The vested rights awarded to BMC in 2008 remain with the property and are retained by Ranchwood Homes. Should the California developers decide to pursue Brown’s original plans on the downtown properties, those vested rights would expire in 2016.

Although Ranchwood Homes has not stated their intentions for the recent purchases, Rose expressed pleasure with acquiring the Alley House property.

Complimenting Brown on the job done turning a historic building into an upscale restaurant, Rose added, “It was a good investment and, of course, I like the restaurant a lot.

“I’m a big believer in Pagosa Springs,” Rose said. “The downtown is unique and it needs to grow. I think Pagosa is ready for the next big boom. I don’t know when that will be, but I’m going to be there for it.”

Like Rose, Brown was also a big believer in Pagosa Springs. Not only proposing developments for the revitalization of the core downtown area, Brown and his wife Carol were involved in various civic and philanthropic activities. According to Heraty, numerous charitable donations and activities throughout the area that were attributed to the Browns represent only a fraction of what they actually gave.

“There were many times he wrote a check with the stipulation that the gift remain anonymous,” Heraty said. “He and Carol gave much, much more than what most people know about.

“There are other people with money here, maybe with more money. I haven’t seen anyone as generous and as genuine as they (the Browns) have been. They opened their hearts and their wallets to this community,” Heraty added.

While for-sale signs indicate that Dave Brown has divested himself of all properties in downtown Pagosa Springs and the surrounding area, many residents will say that his legacy will remain for a very long time. Although not without detractors during his decades as a local resident, many others will say that most of what the Browns accomplished (or attempted to accomplish) had a positive impact on Pagosa Country.

It is impossible to say how different Pagosa Springs would look if Brown had been able to complete his vision for the town. However, it is reasonable to assume that it could be a very long time before another person with Brown’s vision, money, influence and charitable spirit comes to Pagosa Springs with the same desire to make a difference.

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