Friday, December 24, 2010

Long-empty condos to be auctioned

Bank selling 11 of its 22 Chilali Lodge units


By TREVON MILLIARD
Express Staff Writer

Only three of Chilali Lodge's 25 luxury condominiums in Ketchum have been bought since construction ended in 2007, and two are affordable housing units sold to buyers on the Blaine County Housing Authority list. The other 22 have remained empty ever since, still brand new and completely unused. But this could soon change for the largely vacant downtown corner of Second Avenue and Sun Valley Road.

San Francisco-based Union Bank, current owner of these 22 units, has decided to auction 11 condos on Feb. 19, according to a Wednesday announcement made by the auctioning company Accelerated Marketing Partners. The auction will be held at Sun Valley Resort. Ken Stevens, West Coast CEO of the auctioning company, said Union Bank acquired the condos about six months ago. Union Bank's acquisition is just the latest chapter of a tumultuous story for the Chilali Lodge.

The 22 condos have changed hands three times in a mere two years. The developer and original owner, Barclays North, sold the project to Seattle-based Bingham Capital in summer 2008 for an undisclosed amount. The property again got a new owner last January when it was taken over by Washington-based Frontier Bank, which was owed well over $10 million, according to Ketchum-based real estate agent Dick Fenton, who was familiar with the deal at the time.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. then seized Frontier Bank in April because it was overextended in commercial real estate loans to developers, which weren't making their payments. Union Bank soon after bought Frontier's 51 branches across the Puget Sound region, which included assets such as the 22 Chilali condos.

Stevens said Union Bank now wants to sell 11 of the condos "quickly," and an auction is the best way to do that. With the minimum bids of these 11 condos being reduced 58 to 65 percent from previous asking prices, Chilali's three owners may at long last have neighbors.

"It's a fabulous opportunity for buyers," Stevens said, "because the bank is a nonemotional seller."

The cheapest condo up for auction is a 1,600-square-foot, one-bedroom unit with 1.5 baths. The minimum bid is $295,000, 58 percent below its previous $695,000 asking price. From there, the units range in size from two-bedroom to three-bedroom condos. The highest minimum bid is $795,000 for the three-bedroom, 3.5-bath condos of about 2,500 square feet. The previous list price was $2.15 million, making the starting price a 63 percent cut.

Stevens said he's unaware what Union Bank has planned for its remaining 11 condos after the auction. He speculated that the bank may be auctioning off the first 11, hoping it will drive up the values so it can sell the other 11 at a higher price.

Nevertheless, Stevens said, prospective buyers hold all the cards in the current real estate market.

"After a few years of stalled activity, Chilali can finally be delivered at a price the market is willing to pay," Stevens said. "The seller is looking to consumers to determine what the remaining residences are worth and is committed to accepting whatever that determination may be."

For more information on the auction, call (888) 867-2306 or visit auctionsunvalley.com. The auction information center at 222 Second Ave. N. will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Feb. 19. Stevens said bidders need to be pre-qualified to participate, which can be done at the information center.

Trevon Milliard: tmilliard@mtexpress.com




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