Aspen Lakes resort plans go nationwide

 

Last updated 10/4/2022 at Noon



Plans to market the Aspen Lakes development east of Sisters as an NFT resort accelerated in the past week — and so did opposition to the idea.

The property remains in the hands of the Cyrus family of Sisters; at the same time, a South Dakota-listed corporation ramped up its promotion of an entirely reformatted Aspen Lakes called Rhue Resorts. Cindy Wyant is listed as CEO.

Wyant and her husband, Don, both in their 60s, and/or their adult children, have nearly two dozen business filings registered with the Oregon Secretary of State, ranging from an AM Radio Station (KSLM) to a string of construction and development entities including a movie theater, all in Salem.

They are residents of Salem and have known the Cyrus family for a number of years. The Nugget spoke with Cindy Wyant. She explained that the corporation acquiring Aspen Lakes was formed in South Dakota for tax reasons. She spoke in optimistic terms about the project. Their attorney advises them that they are on firm ground to develop the property as envisioned.

“Rhue” comes from the German word ruhe, meaning serenity. When asked if Rhue expected opposition to the project, she expressed their belief that they can win over opponents once they understand the concept.

“We are Oregonians, sixth generation. We are good neighbors and care deeply about preserving the beauty and special nature of Aspen Lakes,” she said.

She spoke about their seven children and 20 grandchildren, many of whom, like the senior Wyants, will be leaving the Willamette Valley for Sisters.

“This is not going to be a Disneyland or anything close to it,” she said. “The property is listed for sale. It’s better for Sisters if we buy it than a faceless corporate developer. We will develop it with utmost sensitivity and eco-friendly practices.”

In a lengthy interview with The Nugget Matt Cyrus said that the property in question, some 1,300 acres, is mapped as “resort” by Deschutes County, a fact confirmed by Deschutes County Planning Manager Will Groves.

Discussing opposition to the project, Cyrus said: “If not Rhue, if not us, it will be somebody. This will be a destination resort.”

Cyrus asserts that they have already met most of the conditions, which include having water permits and archeological reviews, and references one situation where the family has already been upheld by the Appellate Court. He acknowledges that the Rhue acquisition may not happen and has listed the property with a broker in Portland as a contingency, clearly intent on letting others develop the property.

“The process will have to be updated,” Cyrus said, “but fundamentally nothing has changed.”

Rhue has made no application to Deschutes County for approval of such a major development. Groves, the planning manager said: “The first I heard of it was when I read it in The Nugget.”

Groves indicated that mapping is only an element of a much bigger process.

“Yes, on a top-line level, Aspen Lakes is mapped for resort, but the process from concept to completion is complex with numerous steps,” he said.

When asked about murmuring opposition by the homeowners of Aspen Lakes Estates, Cyrus suggested they re-read their CCRs (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions), the binding legal agreement they signed upon acquiring property.

A copy of the CCRs obtained by The Nugget states in Article XV, 15.1 the Declarant’s (Cyrus’) intent and rights to convert the property to a “mini destination resort” or “destination resort.” Cyrus said that any effort by the homeowners to thwart the sale “would be actionable.”

Homeowners speaking to The Nugget are mostly perturbed about the lack of transparency and only learning about Rhue when logging on to the Aspen Lakes website to register tee times. On September 27, Wyant promised the homeowners and their HOA more information soon.

The project is somewhat of a mystery. It is being marketed as fait accompli. Rhue has retained a high-caliber boutique marketing agency in New York who has produced polished materials including videos, a robust, graphic website, and press outreach resulting in widespread coverage including national publications, such as Men’s Journal, essentially touting the resort as a done deal.

On September 26, Rhue began accepting lifetime membership purchases for the Aspen Lakes Resort. One of the 10,000 memberships, each costing $15,000, could be purchased with an NFT (non-fungible token) or the old fashioned way, by cash. That makes the potential of a $150 million project should all 10,000 be sold.

Thee amenities listed now reference to a “five-star hotel, conference center, and retirement center.” The project is planned in 10 phases, according to Rhue’s website, and includes wine tasting, a cigar lounge, a campground on a 12-acre lake with paddleboats and canoes, a petting zoo, miniature golf, outdoor concert venue, food trucks, and dude ranch, as well as construction of a town square with apartments and condos.

The 12-acre lake, presumably, is Cyrus Reservoir south of Highway 126, which indicates the breadth of the acreage. Most of the resort will be located between the existing golf course and Highway 126 to the south and west across Camp Polk Road.

 

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