Eagles Nest Bought by Japanese Co. for $13.5 Million
By Kathy Bedell, © Leadville Today
After months of swirling rumors from local economic development pundits, it was NOT Vail Resorts, but rather the Japanese investor Masayuki Tsukada who quickly and quietly bought the Eagles Nest Apartments in Leadville for $13.5 million – cash.
And while the deal may come as a surprise to some, the purchase of one of the largest housing developments in the county, confirms what middle to low income residents have been talking about for years: affordable housing is getting harder and harder to find.
So when the news broke, it didn’t take long for the Leadville Today (LT) social media platforms to light-up regarding a real-life issue that up to this point, seems to only be a political talking point packed full of excuses.
“I hope rent doesn’t go up again,” writes Michelle White, an Eagles Nest resident. “Most everyone here is here because we are middle class and just can’t afford rent elsewhere – and we make too much to go into low-income housing. I’m worried. I’ve already seen people move because of the cost of living issues for the middle class out here. Any chance this isn’t actually happening?”
In fact, residents should get used to the trend as Leadville and Lake County gears up for another historic Boom cycle. And while local officials continue to put their efforts, attention and lots of tax-dollars into go-nowhere economic development efforts, residents brace for another shift in trying to make ends meet.
“The rent for these people has gone up considerably,” writes April LaCome Fetters, adding, “I hope this new owner doesn’t raise it even more. I know people living here that are struggling as it is.”
For many weighing in on the Eagles Nest sale, nostalgia played a big role, recalling the apartment complex’s sorted and soiled past. Originally built atop Fremont Pass in the old “company town,” to house the hundreds of underground miners working at the neighboring Climax Mine, like many of those structures, it was relocated down to Leadville in the mid-1960s.
“I think Stonehenge was the actual name of the apartments in the 70’s/early 80’s,” chimed in long-time Lake County resident Sharon Lee Weatherall Galey on the LT Facebook page. Her comment continued, explaining the complex’s varied names from Miner’s Park, to present day Eagle’s Nest, which Scott Bradley re-named the 50+-year-old development when he purchased it for $3 million back in 2007.
But for many residents, it was the litany of nicknames that the designated low-income housing units garnered over the years that seemed to rise to the top. From Smurfville (during the years it stood as an offensive blue beacon), to cockroach city (as described by former resident Gloria Ennis, although other readers refuted this claim, offering that cockroaches can’t live at 10,000 feet, as well as other former residents that indicated cockroaches were not part of their experience), to the more distasteful “Knife and Gun Club,” referring to the criminal activity the units were known for during the 1990s, there’s no doubt that Eagles Nest has its own special history.
So what about the future? Well, in a deal that was closed within thirty days, according to Jason Blevins’ story in The Denver Post, it’s the type of trend residents are expecting, as another Boom cycle for Leadville and Lake County begins to ramp up. As history lovers know, it’s simply part of the Boom and Bust heritage of this mountain community, rather than a “new historic era,” as recently touted by one local official. Unfortunately, the “need for affordable housing” seems to be more of a political talking point than a substantive plan as things head into the November election season. And the truth is, that it makes a large percent of low-middle income renters more than a little nervous.
“Why would a holding company that specializes in high-end event planning and resort spas, guest houses and hotels buy Eagle’s Nest?” wrote Jeanette Jones. “It’s going to be interesting to see what the developer has planned.”
Why yes, yes it is, and Leadville Today will be here to keep you informed.
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