REAL ESTATE - JER Partners has made a $96m (E70.5m) preferred equity investment into the Snowmass Base Village, Snowmass Center and West Village mixed-use project near Aspen, Colo.

Cia Buckley ,president of the US Fund Business for JER Partners, said: "This transaction gives us the opportunity to participate in the development of a unique project that will help to create a year-around resort atmosphere in the area. It’s not easy to find these kinds of deals in high demand resort areas."

The equity investment by JER Partners will be used to help with the financing of the Base Village. The total cost of all three phases of the project is over $1bn. The development is led by a joint venture of Related Companies and WestPac Investments.

Started last year, Base Village covers 19 acres and 1m sf2 gross of space. It will have a mixture of property types, including single-family condos, a condo hotel, retail, fine dining, a community recreation area a state-of-the-art children’s centre and a ski services area. This part of the project should be completed by the 2008 ski season.

There has been no timetable established as to when Snowmass Center or West Village sections of the project would be started. These sections will have things like additional residential, hotel, retail and recreational uses.

JER is now looking at other transactions in a resort kind of setting. It will be very selective in the properties that it invests in. The company wants them to be in an area that has either-or a national or international reputation for either ski or a resort destination. There needs to be a large demand for a new mixed use project to include a mixture of residential, retail and recreational features.

JER made the investment in Colorado for one of its commingled funds. The real estate manager is now marketing its newest fund called JER Partners IV. The total raise for the fund could be $1.25bn. One of the investors in the commingled fund with a $20m commitment is the Montana State Board of Investment.

There is a possibility that the raising capital for the fund would be completed by the fourth quarter. The real estate fund manager has always attracted pension fund capital to its investment funds. The deals for the fund could include preferred equity, straight equity and mezzanine.