Town of Breckenridge aims to buy U.S. Bank building to complement new parking garage

The South Gondola Lot is full on Wednesday, March 14, in Breckenridge. Vail Resorts, which owns the parking lot and Breckenridge Ski Resort, and town officials are working out details of an agreement that would allow the town to build a parking garage on the resort-owned lot.
Hugh Carey /

As they close in on a lease with Vail Resorts that would allow Breckenridge to build its long-awaited parking garage on the South Gondola Lot, town officials have sights set on another property: the Breckenridge Professional Building.

 The building sits sandwiched between town hall to the east and another town-owned parcel to the west. The back of the property butts up against the South Gondola Lot.

The town and Vail Resorts, which owns Breckenridge Ski Resort, have agreed to a term sheet and are in the final stages of formalizing a ground lease for the South Gondola Lot. Town officials see securing the nearby Breckenridge Professional Building as a necessary, strategic purchase for the parking garage.

A resolution passed unanimously Tuesday night by Breckenridge Town Council instructs town staff to do everything in their power to negotiate a mutually beneficial deal to buy the property. Should the town and landowner be unable to reach such an agreement, the resolution authorizes the town to begin the proceedings to seize the property.

“We’ve been negotiating with the owners of the Breckenridge Professional Building next door and we are making progress,” the town’s attorney, Tim Berry, told council members during Tuesday’s meeting. “This ordinance is sort of the next step in the process. It declares that if we’re unable to get to an agreement, council is prepared to condemn the property and acquire it by eminent domain.”

Town manager Rick Holman said the town isn’t planning to demo the building or kick anyone out, nor does Breckenridge really want to get into the business of leasing office space. Currently, the town is planning to honor all existing leases.

Rather, the building comes with parking easements tied to town-owned land, and sitting right next door to where Breckenridge intends to build the parking garage, the property will almost certainly play a critical role in pedestrian access to the new parking structure and downtown walkability.

The Breckenridge Professional building is sandwiched on the east and west by town-owned property and the back of the building butts up against the resort-owned South Gondola Lot.
From the Summit County Assessor’s Office

“If we own that (property), we can get in there, really improve it and create a nice pathway that invites people into the core of town,” Holman said, adding that with the parking easements assigned to the building, the town can’t control those easements unless it owns the building.

Councilwoman Wendy Wolfe was recused from any matters involving the potential property acquisition, as her husband, Jack Wolfe, works as a real estate agent at LIV Sotheby’s International Reality and is negotiating a potential deal on behalf of the town.

Reached over the phone Wednesday, the owner said he wasn’t too keen on the idea of selling the commercial building when the town first reached out to him, but he understands the town’s position, nonetheless. 

Ed Bello owns a Hawaii-based real estate company, Bello Realty, along with a handful of Breckenridge properties, including the building at 130 Ski Hill Road that houses the U.S. Bank beside town hall. 

Records show he purchased the Breckenridge Professional Building, occupied entirely by commercial assets and office space, in April 2016 for $3.1 million. Bello said the building was in bad shape when he got it and he has spent a significant amount of money bringing it up to standard. With the improvements, Bello added, the building is now fully leased.

“I wasn’t particularly interested in selling it,” he said. “I didn’t buy it that long ago and I had in mind keeping it awhile.”

Bello said he knows the town is looking to build a parking garage and, because of his longstanding involvement in town, he’s looking at the scenario as both the owner of the building and as a town resident.

“Whatever happens with this thing, I pay a lot of taxes there (in Breckenridge), so I guess I’ll be helping buy it from myself,” Bello said. “I don’t really want to sell it, but I understand in the long term (town officials) have their reasons to do this.”

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