February 2010

Everyone's Happier When It Snows

Everyone's Happier When It Snows
Last weekend's three day snowstorm that dumped two new feet of snow on Aspen, not only brought out local passholders at record levels, but also enabled visitors, albeit not necessarily by choice, to extend their stays by a couple of days. At least half the flights out of Aspen on Saturday were cancelled and nearly all flights were cancelled on Sunday due to the snowstorm, extending the Presidents' Day Week in Aspen by 1-3 days for some. Aspen retail and lodging merchants are happy to have had the few extra days of business and visitors were able to enjoy Aspen just a little while longer.  
Posted by Missi on February 26, 2010 in

January Pitkin County Market Analysis Compliments of Land Title

January Pitkin County Market Analysis Compliments of Land Title
Summary for the month of January
  • Total dollar volume $55,349,360, a decrease of 52% from January 2009’s total of $115,936,999
  • Total transactions 49, a decrease of 37% from January 2009’s total of 78
    • Please note that January 2009 included 41 sales at the Residences at the Little Nell which totaled $64 million in dollar volume
  • Aspen led the county with 20 transactions, followed by Snowmass with 10, there were 10 interval sales, Woody Creek reported 4, Carbondale 2, and Basalt and Redstone each had 1.  There was also 1 quit claim deed with a doc fee recorded, which rounds out the total of 49 transactions.
  • Aspen also led in dollar volume with $29 million, Snowmass followed with $10 million, Intervals totaled $5.7 million, Woody Creek totaled $5.7 million, Carbondale $1.1 million, and Redstone $585,000.  The remaining $3.1 million was a quit claim transfer. 
  • Interval sales and the Woody Creek area both reported increases in transactions and dollar volume over December 2009
  • Snowmass reported an increase in dollar volume, but a decrease in transactions
  • The average single family home sold price for January totaled $2.2 million, this is a decrease of 55% from the full year 2009 total of $4.9 million
  • The median single family home sold price for January totaled $2.1 million, this is a decrease of 33% from the full year 2009 total of $3.2 million
    • Please keep in mind that this is comparing 9 single family sales thus far in 2010 to full year 2009
    • Please refer to page 5 of the PDF for additional detail by area
  • Interval dollar volume for January totaled $5.7 million, a decrease of 91% from January 2009
  • Interval transactions for January totaled 10, a decrease of 79% from January 2009
    • Again, most of the dollar volume in January 2009 was attributed to the Residences at the Little Nell sales
  • The 10 interval transactions were as follows:  Ritz Carlton – 4, Little Nell – 3, Hyatt, Dancing Bear, and Sanctuary each reported 1
Posted by gary on February 26, 2010 in

Aspen Defeats Vail On Travelocity

Aspen Defeats Vail On Travelocity

Aspen was voted the better resort over Vail during last week's Travelocity website contest. Aspen won by 68,507 votes a 56% to 44% margin win.  A total of 568,987 votes were cast on the Facebook page of Travelocity. Anyone on Facebook was elegible to vote.  Travelocity's well known Roaming Gnome and his entourage will visit Aspen in celebration of the win. While in town the Gnome's plans include hiking the Highlands Bowl, trying out the Superpipe at Buttermilk and possibly an Aspen pub crawl.

Photo by Taylor Feldman

Posted by Missi on February 18, 2010 in

Aspen Board of Realtors February 2010 Observer

Aspen Board of Realtors February 2010 Observer


ABOR Observer

February 2010

Top Stories —

Viceroy lawsuits pile up; Related Westpac offers discounts

SNOWMASS — The legal woes of Viceroy Hotel developer Related WestPac continued to pile up last month: It is now estimated that more than half of contracted buyers at the condominium-hotel are suing to get out of their deals.

Lawyers say that between 45 and 60 of the purchase contracts at the Viceroy, located in Snowmass Village, are now being disputed. There were 80 units under contract as of the middle of last month, according to reports.

The Viceroy, with more than a 150 units, is an eight-story building located on Assay Hill at Snowmass. It is the only Base Village building to be completed in recent years.

The lawsuits claim Related WestPac and its in-house real estate company made false representations in marketing and sales efforts, and that Related WestPac’s failure to complete other buildings at Base Village has had negative impacts on property values.

The disgruntled buyers are asking for their 15 percent deposits to be returned, plus damages to be determined at trial.

Many of the disputed sales went under contract in late 2007 and early 2008, when the local real estate market was at its height. So litigation, which began in October 2009, may continue over the next several weeks.

Related WestPac CEO Dwayne Romero told local real estate agents last month that buyers were being offered 30 percent discounts if they followed through and closed on their units.

But Michael Reiser, a Walnut Creek, Calif. attorney who represents nearly two dozen plaintiffs said the 30 percent discount offer has been on the table for several months and that his clients haven’t expressed much interest.

Bidwell redevelopment faces wary council

The thought of at least 30 months of construction in the heart of downtown Aspen has Aspen City Council wary of approving the demolition and redevelopment of the Bidwell Building. Located on the northwest corner of Galena Street and Cooper Avenue, the Bidwell Building was designed by architect Fritz Benedict in the mid-1960s. It is a two story, 12,000-square-foot commercial building that shares one of the most historic corners in Aspen with architectural icons such as the Red Onion, the Independence Square Hotel and the Aspen Block.

The proposed replacement totals 18,00 square feet, with 11,400 square feet of commercial space on the ground and second floors. The second floor would also house two affordable housing units and a free-market studio. Two free-market condos would occupy the third floor.

Council members and city planning staff said the developers have come a long way since an earlier proposal was denied in 2006, but concerns about construction impacts and mass and scale still concerned council members and most of the public that showed up at the meeting.

The team of architects and consultants working for the Bidwell family said concerns about construction impacts shouldn’t override what they see as a necessary redevelopment. James Anderton of Kemo Sabe said he was willing to be temporarily displaced from his space for a better building. Aspen "should be ashamed" of the current building, he said, noting the sunken courtyard notorious for business turnover and

store entrances hidden from street view. But Councilman Dwayne Romero scolded the development team for not doing enough to gain community support.

Mayor Mick Ireland said the developers’ would need to convince him of their ability to complete the project before they would get his vote, citing the unfinished and idle Dancing Bear and Stage Three projects. And Councilman Torre said the town should consider changing Aspen’s land-use code to limit buildings in the downtown core to two stories, with projects able to attain three stories only through a PUD review that deemed them "exceptional."

The developers will come back to the council in the next few months and make an attempt to address some of the concerns raised.

Aspen —

Council holds off on contract with Boulder architect

Aspen City Council held off on its initial plans to hire a Boulder architecture firm to design the remainder of the Burlingame affordable housing project. Council members want more information about the firm and the precise scope of work the city would be buying. The decision comes one week after the city selected Boulder-based OZ Architecture over Aspen’s Poss Architecture and Planning. OZ’s bid came in at about $1 million less than the Poss’s. The discrepancy between the two bids led some on City Council to question whether the Poss proposal and the OZ proposal provided the same scope of work. Questions were also raised about whether OZ was prepared was adequately estimating the costs of getting a project built in Aspen.

Hospital expansion set for summer

The second phase of Aspen Valley Hospital’s expansion is set to begin in late summer and last for 22 months.

The second phase is by far the most expensive and extensive of the three-phase plan. It includes a new wing of patient rooms, office space for physicians, a area for cardiac rehabilitation, a physical therapy section, a parking garage and 22 employee housing units to the north of the hospital.

The first phase of the project, a new obstetrics unit, is already finished. By the time the third phase is completed, the hospital also have a new emergency room, radiology labs and testing areas and surgery center.

The overall facility will grow from its current size of 70,000 square feet to nearly 210,000 square feet, plus an 80,000-square-foot parking garage.

Council denies pot growing operation’s appeal

Aspen City Council upheld a recent ruling that makes it impossible to locate a commercial medical marijuana grow operation in the city’s service/commercial/industrial zone district.

The SCI zone district, located in Obermeyer Place and across Puppy Smith from Clark’s, is dedicated to locally serving, non-retail oriented businesses. The zoning does not allow agricultural uses, which is what a medical marijuana grow operation is in the opinion of the planning department and, now, City Council. In his appeal to City Council, Kent Kleppinger of Aspen, argued that as a producer of medical marijuana, he would be engaged in the manufacture of a pharmaceutical, which cannot be classified as agriculture.

While City Council members seemed compelled by Kleppinger’s argument, they found his appeal did not meet the "high hurdle" required to overturn the code interpretation.

Marketing district reconsidered

Discussions about a publicly funded marketing district in Aspen are under way again. The Aspen Chamber Resort Association and Aspen Lodging Association last fall sought voter approval of a 1 percent sales tax in the downtown core that would be dedicated to marketing the resort, but a ballot snafu led the city clerk to pull the question shortly before the election.

Part of the problem occurred because the vote was limited to a small number of people who live within the boundaries of the proposed taxing district. Proponents appear to be leaning this time toward a city-wide district and a city-wide vote, said Debbie Braun, president of the ACRA.

The matter is expected to go before City Council sometime in March.

Food carts could hit streets late in Aspen

There is a new proposal working its way through the city of Aspen that would allow portable food carts with to-go food like hot dogs and burritos in pedestrian areas near Rio Grande Park, Rubey Park, the Hyman Avenue mall and the Aspen Mountain gondola plaza.

Aspen Chamber Resort Association board members are wary, however, noting that the carts could take business away from existing restaurants that are paying high Aspen rents. Allowing stands to open after restaurants closed may be a way to please hungry passers-by without hurting existing business, ACRA members said.

It would take an ordinance from Aspen City Council to allow zoning for the carts.

Construction activity drops sharply in 2009

Last year proved to be the worst year for local contractors since 2001, according to the city of Aspen.

The building department issued 575 building permits for residential and commercial projects in 2009, for a total valuation of $68.92 million. That’s 60 percent less than in 2008, and the first time in seven years that total construction activity has come in under $100 million.

Those are stark numbers compared to the $300 million value of projects that received building permits in 2006, the peak year.

Snowmass Village —

Snowmass family targets Related over lost lodge

The Moebius family, longtime owners of the Snowmass Inn, are suing Related Cos of New York, the parent company of Related Westpac, and three other LLCs in an effort to shine the light on the foreclosure proceedings that stripped them of ownership of the lodge they ran for 33 years.

The Moebius’s entered a partnership in 2007 with Related WestPac and developers Jim Chaffin, Jim Light and David Wilhelm to redevelop their lodge and a neighboring property. Chaffin, Light and Wilhelm cashed out of the deal in 2008.

In April 2009, the Moebius family found out that the Snowmass Inn was going into foreclosure because of a default on a $112 million loan from Bank of America used by Related WestPac and its entities to purchase several Snowmass properties. They say they weren’t even aware the deed of trust for the Snowmass Inn had been granted to Bank of America.

Mark Moebius says Related and Related WestPac have declined to answer any of their questions about the foreclosure. The Snowmass Inn, along with several other properties was purchased out of foreclosure by Related Cos. last August.

Their suit alleges that "stonewalling" on the part of Related indicates there may have been misuse of their joint LLC "… to perpetuate fraud and milk the entities of the joint venture of their assets, while simultaneously denying a minority member’s rightful claim to information." Mark Moebius said once he finds out what happened, there may be further action.

Lender forecloses on Drostes

An offshore investment company initiated foreclosure proceedings against Peter and Bruce Droste, the Snowmass landowners who have been embroiled in land use disputes with Pitkin County for most of the last decade.

Court documents filed by Bomoseen Investments claim the Drostes borrowed $2 million in 2005, using three plots of their land as collateral. Bomoseen, based in the Virgin Islands, claims that the Drostes failed to make interest payments on the loan, and violated other provisons of the loan agreement.

Last fall, the Droste’s won approval to build a controversial nine-home development in the hills between Brush Creek and Owl Creek. How the foreclosure proceedings affect development of Brush Creek Ranch remains to be seen.

Base Village scores two

Snowmass Villager Scott Calliham last month opened the Magic Buzz, an espresso and sandwich kiosk housed in a converted and smartly decorated Volkswagen bus parked in the courtyard at Base Village.

And by President’s Day, he will open a new restaurant, Base Camp, in the space previously occupied by Junk.

The Magic Buzz’s "grab-it-and-go" menu — including wraps, breakfast burritos and espresso drinks — was something that’s until now lacking in the Base Village plaza, which began the season with only two sit-down eateries, The Sweet Life and Sneaky’s Tavern.

Base Camp will serve grilled burgers and brats, sandwiches, fries, nachos, tacos, wings, burritos "and other fare that is sure to appeal to a party-crowd atmosphere," according to a press release.

A real estate agent currently with BJ Adams and Company, Calliham was director of sales for Base Village developer Related WestPac until last July.

Krabloonik critics push state for reform

Bill Fabrocini, co-founder of the Voices of Krabloonik reform organization, traveled to Denver to meet with Department of Agriculture officials about protecting sled dogs from being tethered for extended periods of time. Voices of Krabloonik is following the example in Nevada, where reformers successfully lobbied the state Legislature to change the law so working dogs can no longer be chained more than 14 hours per day and have at least 12 feet of free movement when they are tied up. Changing Colorado’s rules, which allow working dogs to be treated differently than pets, would require a ruling by the agriculture department, not a vote of the state Legislature. Krabloonik owner Dan MacEachen previously said he cannot afford to make substantial improvements to the facilities, and points out that sled dogs do not have the same needs as pets. His dogs spend 8 months a year on tethers. A public inspection by several veterinarians in the fall of 2008 concluded the Krabloonik sled dogs were in good health.

Skico welcomes Sheridan back without ‘Big Money’

Aspen musician Dan Sheridan was fired and rehired by the Aspen Skiing Co. in less than one week. Skico officials apologized to Sheridan on a Thursday for firing him the previous Monday. The cause of his firing was "Big Money," a song that mocks the wealthy and their affects on Aspen that Sheridan played on New Year’s Day on at Sneaky’s Tavern. He played the song only after it was requested by several different audience members.

Sheridan, 44, is an award-winning songwriter whose folk songs are colored and shaped by his 20-plus years in Aspen. He wrote "Big Money" in the 1990s.

Local men cited for illegally killing three elk

Two local men have been issued citations by the Colorado Division of Wildlife and Pitkin County for illegally killing three elk on public open space land off of lower Brush Creek Road. The DOW cited Angus "Herman" Anderson Jr. of Snowmass Village with two counts of unlawful take and possession of an elk, one count of hunting without a proper and valid hunting license, and one count of hunting in a closed area. He faces $5,700 in fines and the possibility of losing hunting and fishing privileges in 30 states. Dana Knight of Aspen was cited with one count of illegal take and possession of an elk and one count of hunting in a closed area. He faces $4,200 in fines and a similar suspension of privileges. Both men were also cited by Pitkin County Open Space and Trails with unauthorized motor vehicle use, a $100 fine, and prohibited hunting, which carries a fine of $1,000.

Posted by gary on February 16, 2010 in

Aspen's Red Onion Will Be Back

Aspen's Red Onion Will Be Back
The Red Onion is reopening in it's original location this May 2010.  Longtime Aspen restaurateur and co-owner of the successful Blue Maize restaurant, Thomas Colosi and his sister Jennifer Colosi signed a 15-year lease on the space on the Cooper Avenue Mall where the "Onion" has resided for nearly 120 years. They intend on using the original name and plan on catering to locals and making it affordable. Keeping the historic facade, the interior of the space is being renovated and is panned for completion by May 15. The new Red Onion will be open for lunch and dinner and will stay open late-night.
Posted by Missi on February 12, 2010 in

Base Camp Bar and Grill Opens Friday

Base Camp Bar and Grill Opens Friday
Base Camp Bar and Grill, the new restaurant opening at Base Village Plaza in Snowmass, will get started on Friday in time for Presidents' Day Weekend.  The new lunch and apre' ski spot will take over the space previously occupied by the bar/nightclub Junk and Liquid Sky. Base Camp will offer bar and grill style fare plus a kids' menu. They also plan to have live bands and DJs and do private events in the upstairs.
Posted by Missi on February 10, 2010 in

Joshua & Co.'s Digital Buyers Guide (Revised February 1, 2010)

Joshua & Co.'s Digital Buyers Guide (Revised February 1, 2010)

Joshua & Co. publishes a semi-annual hard copy Buyers Guide that contains current information about properties that we represent.  Simultaneously, we publish an identical digitial Buyers Guide.


The Aspen/Snowmass real estate market is always changing.  To ensure that our digital Buyers Guide is as current as possible, it is revised and updated every two weeks to include "new listings", "sold listings", price and status changes.


Check back here every two weeks for the latest issue.  Click the link below.



Posted by gary on February 09, 2010 in

There Are No Shortcuts To Aspen

There Are No Shortcuts To Aspen

During the winter, there are no shortcuts to Aspen. You can fly into Sardy Field or drive up Highway 82.

A 31 year-old Indiana man found himself stuck in his snow-covered car for three days  near Sanguache, Colorado after he took  the advice of a local about a shortcut to Aspen.

He was rescued after his car ran out of gas and he walked seven miles to a road and was given a ride to the nearest town.

Driving in the high country, especially during the wintertime, can be dangerous.  Always plan your route and take along a winter survival kit.

Photo By Taylor Feldman


Posted by gary on February 09, 2010 in

Little Papoose Ranch Captures Cover of Robb Report's Collection

Little Papoose Ranch Captures Cover of Robb Report's Collection

Listed by Joshua & Co.'s Ranch Division, Little Papoose Ranch near Ridgway, Colorado is featured on the cover of Robb Report's Collection magazine in the February 2010 issue.

Located on 259 of the most picturesque acres only 45 minutes from Telluride, this property offers 15,000 square feet and contains nine bedrooms, six bathrooms, two rustic cabins and a six-stall horse barn.

Asking Price is $15,900,000 

Posted by gary on February 08, 2010 in

Airport Business Up in January

Airport Business Up in January
Aspen-Pitkin County Airport had it's busiest January in over a decade last month. Increased business had been reported for 2009 overall due to reduced airfares brought on by increased airline competition in the Aspen-Snowmass market.  Aspen and Roaring Fork Valley residents as well as visitors have taken advantage of the bargain fares and the trend continued up as 2010 settled in.
Posted by Missi on February 08, 2010 in