UPDATE AUG. 2: Rodeo Grounds sold; buyer is not Mammoth Mountain Ski Area
Rusty Gregory says buyer is ‘a high quality individual with a great deal of integrity and the resources to develop if he chooses to'
One of the largest remainind undeveloped parcels of private property in the June Lake and Mammoth Lakes area, the 87-acre undeveloped “Rodeo Ground” parcel across the street from June Mountain Ski Area, has now been purchased by the family of Edward P.Roski Jr., the president and chair of the board of Majestic Realty Co.
Escrow closed earlier this week, according to Tim Alpers, the county supervisor for June Lake.
MMSA CEO Rusty Gregory said last week that he didn't know that the Roski family, who have owned property in June Lake for generations, intends to do with the property.
“(I) don’t really know (what the potential buyer intends). But I do know that he is a high quality individual with a great deal of integrity and the resources to develop if he chooses to,” Gregory said.
Gregory, who has said in previous public meetings that he believes real estate development of around 1,000 transient occupancy units (on either the Rodeo Grounds or in some other form) is critical to June Mountain Ski Area’s future success, said the reason Mammoth Mountain did not make an offer on the 87-acre Rodeo Grounds parcel across the street from June Mountain Ski Area is because MMSA was not interested in being a developer.
“I have believed and stated publicly for many years that June Lakes needs an additional 1,000 hotel rooms (transient occupancy bedrooms) to become a sustainable winter resort,” he said. “We could have offered to purchase the property but had no interest in becoming a developer.
“MMSA was the holder of Right Of First Refusal (ROFR) until last March when the rights expired,” he said. “These rights allowed MMSA to match a bona fide offer from another buyer. Intrawest did not receive an offer during the ROFR period so there was no rights for MMSA to exercise.”
Dan Scidmore, from Daum Commercial Real Estate Services, said the asking prices for the parcel was $2.9 million.
According to Forbes magazine, Roski is listed as a billionaire, with a net worth of about $3.7 billion dollars. He was listed as #104 in a list of “Forbe’s 400” list of wealthiest Americans. The company has offices in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and several other U.S. cities.
Members of the Roski family have been second homeowners in June Lake for generations, said Alpers,
He said it was one of the Roski’s connections with a local that alerted him that the Roski family might be interested in purchasing the property.
“A few months ago, I was talking to Ralph Lockhart (Lockhart is an owner of June Lake’s Double Eagle Resort and Spa) back in April and May and he is good friends with one of the Roski’s. He mentioned the family was interested in buying the Rodeo Grounds,” Alpers said.
“When I found out more, we talked about this at the (Mono County) board meeting during closed session and the board directed me and Scott Burns (Mono County Senior Planner) to go to Los Angeles to meet Ed Roski. It was a great meeting. Ed said, ‘I’m not looking for a giant moneymaker’ and he said it was ‘a tiny’ project for his company, but that he was doing it because he loved June Lake, and his son and grandson love June Lake.”
Alpers also said Roski said the property would only be developed when (and if) a “good project for June Lake” that had the community’s involvement was possible.
The Rodeo Grounds property is offered for sale without any specific entitlements (such as zoning), said Scidmore, who has sold most of Intrawest’s remaining properties in Mammoth in the past few years.
“Right now, any buyer could do what they want with it, within county and state laws,” he said.
The Rodeo Grounds project, as originally proposed by Intrawest before the recession, was the subject of intense scrutiny by June Lake residents—and often intense controversy. Some community members approved of the high density development plan and others did not. Eventually, the community settled on requiring a “Specific Plan” from potential developers, which would allow more community input when a project is proposed.
Scott Burns, Mono County senior planner, said a Specific Plan includes zoning plan, infrastructure, planning and financial plans, amidst other requirements.
Intrawest did have a Specific Plan in the works for many years to create a 800-unit-plus-unit condominium, retail and single-family home project on the parcel, but stopped work on the plan several years ago and requested the county give back an application deposit that was being held in trust by the county.
Scidmore said the property, which had an asking price of $2.9 million, was worth “substantially more” at the height of the last real estate boom, but would not say how much more.
“The buyers are getting a fantastic deal right now,” he said.