‘We Intend to Make Telluride Even More Like Telluride.’
TELLURIDE – A purchase agreement was inked on Friday, May 3, that could lead to an “authentic” and “comprehensive” development of Telluride’s South Fir Street properties long held by the estate of Joseph Zoline, who founded the Telluride Ski Resort.
In a partnership between Los Angeles- and Boulder-based Meriwether Companies and Lifton Zoline International, the two entities have reached an agreement to purchase all the South Fir Street properties held in the estate of Joe Zoline for future comprehensive development. These properties include everything on the west side of South Fir Street from Baked in Telluride and the Village Market to the historic roofless stone structure across Pacific Avenue, and the private parking lot adjacent to it. It also includes the small dirt parking lot on the east side of South Fir Street at its intersection with Pacific Ave. Broker Michael Ward of Telluride Sotheby’s International Realty represented Lifton Zoline International in the deal.
For longtime Telluride residents Pamela Lifton-Zoline and her husband John, who together own Lifton Zoline International, finding the partnership to develop these core properties has been a long time coming.
“For Telluride, this represents a tremendous opportunity to get a comprehensive and coherent plan for that area,” Pamela said. “One of the reasons this area is so critical is because it links the area between the gondola and the whole upper world of Mountain Village to main street and the center of town. It’s a critical artery.”
Meriwether Companies has a history of development in resort communities and currently has projects in Steamboat Springs, Colo., Big Sky, Mont., Kamas, Utah, Rancho Mirage, Calif., and the Lorian residential project in Mountain Village. The company is a real-estate private-equity, investment and development firm focused on luxury residential projects in resort communities. For Noah Hahn, one of Meriwether’s managing partners, the firm is interested in Telluride because of the authentic experience it provides.
“Telluride is the most authentic mountain experience probably in North America,” Hahn said. “That is what drew us to town. This is arguably the most iconic site in Telluride and we started maybe six months ago getting to know John and Pam to make sure it was the right fit.”
Both partners in the agreement said it’s too early in the process to discuss development details other than they plan for a comprehensive and cohesive mixed-use project that will be unique, authentic and will enhance the core of Telluride.
“We have a long way to go,” Hahn said. “The idea that has resonated for us is really creating something authentic. We are enamored with Telluride and what it is today. We are not here to change it.”
One of the unique challenges to developing in this area is what to do with the historic Telluride Transfer Warehouse structure at the corner of South Fir and Pacific. While some developers may see these stone walls as an obstacle, Hahn sees it as an opportunity.
“Part of developing an authentic project is taking into consideration those structures that are historic. We know that structure needs to stay and be incorporated into the new development,” Hahn said. “It’s a challenge but it’s also an opportunity. We need to take advantage of those structures and incorporate them into the project. They will add to its authenticity.”
“We see it as a kind of wonderful seed element for what really interesting and handsome structures can be built there,” Pamela added.
Because the area is such a critical piece to Telluride’s downtown, the developers said they intend to work very closely with the Town of Telluride and the Telluride community to make sure that public benefit is properly represented. Both Pamela and John Lifton-Zoline believe the shared vision with Meriwether Companies will create a development that continues Joseph Zoline’s vision for Telluride.
“After many years of effort, John and I are delighted to have come to this moment,” Pamela said. “We feel it carries on my father’s legacy – strengthening the economy, deepening the culture, and adding to the vibrancy and diversity of our downtown neighborhood. We intend to make Telluride even more like Telluride.”