March 2010

Aspen Board of Realtors March Observer

Aspen Board of Realtors March Observer

The Aspen Board of Realtors Observer

March 2010

Top Stories —

City creating option for affordable housing credits

ASPEN — Aspen may soon incentivize developers to build affordable housing projects by giving them an opportunity to double dip in the market.

The plan would create a credit that could be sold to other developers looking to meet their employee housing mitigation obligations.

Current city policy provides a formula for when and how much affordable housing a developer has to provide when doing a project in the city. There is no incentive currently to simply build affordable housing.

The affordable housing credits, much like “transferable development rights” in the county, would be issued to the developer of the affordable housing based on the number of full time employees his development can house. They could then be sold on the open market.

The incentive in the proposal comes from the fact that affordable housing builder gets to sell or rent the units he or she builds to qualifying locals, and then sell his housing credits to developers of free market projects.

Second reading and a public hearing are set for March 22.

Romero sees light at end of Base Village tunnel

SNOWMASS — Related WestPac President Dwayne Romero is confident that Base Village will move forward in 2010.

The company is in negotiations with its lender to sell Lot 3, which includes two unfinished structures – the Welcoming Center and the Little Nell at Snowmass. Both are partially built, but have been idle and covered with plastic since construction was halted in 2008.

Related Cos., the primary partner in Base Village developer Related WestPac, is planning improvements to the Welcoming Center — regardless of whether Lot 3 is sold — that will make the Base Village area easier for visitors to use. The improvements include transit links, stairs and escalators from the parking garage to the plaza and lockers and bathrooms. The building will remain partially unfinished.

Romero said negotiations with reluctant buyers of Viceroy condominiums have progressed in recent weeks, as well. While the sales of dozens of units are still being challenged in court, some owners have started talking with Romero and his team.

Romero credits Related Cos. for continuing to fund operations at Snowmass Village. The company could have negotiated a takeover by its lenders, Bank of America and Hypo, a German bank, and walked away from the project.

He declined to speculate on what will happen after the unfinished work on Lot 3 is resolved, but did note that the approvals for Base Village are vested through 2024.

Willits want approvals extended without new affordable housing

BASALT — Developers at the Willits subdivision and Basalt Town Council face a potential showdown over affordable housing.

The developers want to extend approvals for 84 townhome units, but say they cannot afford to comply with new affordable housing requirements that went into effect last year.

Under the original approval, no affordable housing was required as part of the 125,000
squarefoot residential project. The new rules, adopted after a yearlong moratorium on new development applications, would require 35 percent of the square footage to be deedrestricted, pricecapped affordable housing.

Developers Michael Lipkin, Clay Crossland and Paul Adams want to provide open space in lieu of the affordable housing by locating most of the 145 parking spots in underground garages beneath the units. That would create more open space for the community at large.

Aspen —

Aspen withholding $1 million on Burlingame contract

The city of Aspen is withholding $1 million from a contractor of the Burlingame Ranch affordable housing project.

Shaw Builders won't receive the money until work on landscaping and seeding are resolved to the city’s satisfaction, said Steve Bossart, the city's asset manager who oversees the project. Shaw Executive Vice President Clark Atkinson is confident his company will satisfy its contract.

Shaw has bid on the 167 mutlifamily units at Burlingame that are currently in the planning stage.

Deed restricted housing bill advances in state Legislature

A bill under consideration in the state Legislature would uphold local governments' ability to enforce deedrestricted housing agreements.

House Bill 1017 clarifies that nothing in the rent
control statute shall prohibit or restrict the right of a property owner and a public entity from voluntarily entering into an agreement that controls rent.

Ronald Myerstein, who owns 18 deedrestricted condominiums at the base of Highlands, and Pitkin County are embroiled in two lawsuits over deed restrictions on several employee housing units he owns in Aspen. He is trying to get out from under those requirements even though he bought the units with the restrictions in place.

Garbage laws tightened for bruins’ sake

Aspen will require every resident to use wildliferesistant garbage cans this summer, as part of the response to the record number of bearhuman incidents last summer.

There will also be new limits on the hours people can have their garbage on the curb; trash haulers will be responsible for monitoring compliance; and construction sites will also have to include bearproof containers.

Aspen Saturday Market to expand

Aspen City Council voiced unanimous support for expanding the Saturday Market onto the 500 block of Hyman Avenue over the objections of three businesses.

The expansion drew opposition from Little Annie’s Eating House and the owner of the vacant Benton Building and the adjacent private parking lot. The council recommended giving the new formation a one
year trial so impacts on the block’s businesses can be assessed.

Calling Little Annie’s an “important local institution,” Mayor Mick Ireland said the city would not let the affordable eatery get hurt by the growing market. “If this negatively impacts Little Annie’s then we’re just not going to do it anymore,” he said.

Downtown food cart plan on hold

Aspen City Council will not allow portable food carts in the downtown core this year, after receiving overwhelmingly negative feedback from the local business community. The Aspen Chamber Resort Association said feedback on the idea was overwhelmingly negative.

Snowmass —

Snowmass considers urban renewal plan for Base Village

Snowmass Village Town Council may create an urban renewal authority to deal with unfinished buildings in Base Village.

An urban renewal authority is a quasi
governmental body that would have power to acquire and condemn property, issue bonds and take on redevelopment projects within a specified area.

Funds for condemnation and renewal projects require an upfront investment from the community, and then are reimbursed through a property and, possibly, sales tax collections.

A majority of council members wanted to learn more about the cost and timeframe.

Concert booze policy revived

Snowmass Village will review its liquor policy for Thursday night free concerts on Fanny Hill in response to news that the townrun beer and wine gardens made a profit.There was bringyourownbooze policy for the shows until three years ago, when the town took over liquor sales. Locals protested the policy change, and secured a promise from town officials to keep liquor sales affordable and lines short to address the concerns.

Some town council members said they were surprised and unhappy to learn that the town’s tourism department made a profit on alcohol sales, breaking a promise made three years ago.

Marketing officials said the profits came in because they found an alcohol sponsor, but the council wants to review operations anyway.

Skico plans summer activities at Snowmass

The Aspen Skiing Co. got the green light from Snowmass Village Town Council to launch a new summer operations plan on Snowmass Ski Area.

The Elk Camp Meadows area, a beginner area for skiers and snowboarders in the winter, will be the hub of a summer activity area that includes a children’s play area, climbing wall, disc golf and fishing, mountain bike lessons and mountain boarding. Café Suzanne will be open for meals. Twenty
five miles of new hiking and biking trails are planned. The area will be accessed by the Elk Camp Gondola, which will run seven days per week.

Forest Service approval is required.

Pitkin County —

Pitkin County may team with Aspen on Burlingame

Two county commissioners, Rachel Richards and George Newman, support a proposal to help fund new affordable housing at Burlingame by committing $9 million in county housing funds toward construction.

The city of Aspen, which is developing Burlingame is looking for partners to develop the remaining 167 units.

Richards pointed out that the project is a chance to get housing built quickly.

Other commissioners want the city to provide detailed information about the per unit cost before committing money to the project. Commissioner Michael Owsley noted the project carries negative political baggage.

Pitkin County tightens oil and gas regulations

Pitkin County may enact new, stringent landuse regulations of oil and gas companies looking to do business in the county.

The code changes attempt to address the visual and noise impacts associated with energy operations, as well as air quality and wildlife impacts. The rules would bolster surface and subsurface water protections and require water monitoring.

They also beef up the financial assurances to cover potential accidents, unforeseen events and potential longterm damage to the health of citizens, the environment, water and wildlife.

The county faces energy development pressure in the northwest corner of the county, around Thompson Creek outside of Carbondale, where some wells and pipelines already exist.

Citizen task force to review Lenado parking conflicts

A community task force is being appointed by the Pitkin County Commissioners to hash out conflicts over parking in Lenado.

Snowmobilers and backcountry skiers have been able to park legally along the road since last fall, when the commissioners OK’d a practice that had been in effect for a long time. Two Lenado landowners, Frank Peters and Daniel Delano, have filed a lawsuit over the matter.

The task force is expected to include members of the local neighborhood caucuses and members of the last task force to address the issue.

Aspen Valley Hospital seeks mill levy renewal

Aspen Valley Hospital will ask voters in May to reauthorize an existing property tax that helps fund hospital operations. The taxing district that supports the hospital encompasses most of Pitkin County.

The mill levy, first approved in 1995, will be up for its fourth reauthorization. Voters will be asked again to approve a levy of up to 1.5 mills, though it can be adjusted downward from the approved amount.

1,804 jobs disappeared through first half of '09

The recession closed 55 businesses and extinguished 1,804 jobs in Pitkin County in the second half of 2008 and first half of 2009, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

Pay levels declined by about $285 per month for workers in Aspen and Snowmass Village declined from June 2008 though June 2009.

The job losses were felt across nearly all major economic sectors: construction, retail, restaurants and bars, real estate sales and property management and entertainment and recreation.

One exception was the tourist accommodation sector, where employment levels were unchanged.

Braudis home from hospital

Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis Braudis, hospitalized earlier this winter with a major upper respiratory infection, will undergo physical therapy to regain strength in his lungs. Afterward, he'll begin cardiovascular rehabilitation to regain his stamina.

Braudis, 65, spent three days in intensive care and several weeks in acute care at St. Joseph's Hospital in Denver. He was in the care of AVH for nearly a week last month, as well. He fell ill while he was vacationing in Europe.

Posted by gary on March 09, 2010 in

Massive Rock Slide Closes Interstate 70 - 3 Hour Detour

Massive Rock Slide Closes Interstate 70 - 3 Hour Detour

The trip to and from Denver just got three hours longer.  A day ago, massive boulders slammed into and through the elevated roadway.  The west-bound lanes suffered the worst damage and may take eight to ten weeks to repair.  The east-bound lanes are likely to open within a few days and will probably be restricted to one lane in each direction.

In the meantime, the quickest way to Denver is to take I-70 west at Glenwood Springs; take CO 13 at Rifle and go north to Meeker; take US 40 east at Craig to Steamboat Springs; take CO 131 to Wolcott and I-70 east to Denver.

Posted by gary on March 09, 2010 in

Significant Aspen Real Estate Closings - February 9 through February 25, 2010

Significant Aspen Real Estate Closings - February 9 through February 25, 2010

Enclave at Aspen, #7



Divide, Lot 12

Snowmass Village


Lot 16, Section 27, Township 9, Range 85 West


Aspen Highlands Village Townhome, Unit 1, Phase 2

Aspen Highlands


Woodrun I, Lot 33

Snowmass Village


Woodrun V Townhome Unit 6, Phase 1

Snowmass Village


Residences at the Little Nell, Unit F400



Residences at the Little Nell, Unit F400



Residences at the Little Nell, Unit F304




Photo by Taylor Feldman

Posted by gary on March 09, 2010 in

Garfield County Airport Closing

Garfield County Airport Closing

Garfield County Regional Airport will close for a $33 million improvement project starting April 5 through to November 18 this year. The project includes runway improvements, aircraft parking expansion and installation of instrument landing and other safety equipment.  The airport will be closed to all aircraft, but will allow for operations by fire and rescue helicopters. The airport does not accommodate any regular commercial flights and has no control tower.  So, closure will only impact private and other noncommercial traffic,  which will most likely be diverted to one of  the three other regional airports located in  Aspen, Eagle or Grand Junction. 

Photo: ABO by Taylor Feldman

Posted by Missi on March 08, 2010 in

Whole Foods In Again

Whole Foods In Again
According to sources in the know, Whole Foods, the world's largest retailer of natural and organic foods, reached a new agreement on Friday to resume plans for opening a store at Willits Town Center in Basalt.  It is not yet official if the size of the store originally planned for, which was 44,000 square feet, is to remain the same or what the projected opening date will be.  Both the developer, Joseph Freed & Associates (JFA) and Whole Foods' representatives previously stated that a renewed agreement would most likely entail a smaller store, perhaps more of a boutique market size with less than 30,000 square feet, due to current economic conditions. The original plan for opening was early 2010, but the completion of the shell of the store was stalled by the developer, who failed to turn it over to Whole Foods by June 2009.  With the estimated original build-out time frame of ten to twelve months, the earliest expected opening date we guess is next summer, assuming JFA can get the shell completed for Whole Foods by this summer. An official statement by JFA is expected early next week.
Posted by Missi on March 08, 2010 in

Four Out Of Five - Not Bad

Four Out Of Five - Not Bad
Four of the last five months showed real estate sales in Aspen and Pitkin County up in both number of sales and dollar volume compared the same months one year previous. With the exception of December, the Aspen Snowmass market was up relative to 2008.  The news may indicate that the market here has stabilized and is on it's way back up, albeit more slowly than the rest of Colorado.  Since January is never a big month for closings, due to lack of activity before the holidays, the next several months will be very important in determining whether our unique real estate market has actually hit bottom and is now trending up again. 
Posted by Missi on March 04, 2010 in

First Fish of 2010

First Fish of 2010

Roaring Fork Valley rivers are awakening.  It's only the first week of March, but it is a great time for fly fishing in the Roaring Fork Valley. The first midge hatch has started and will strengthen throughout the month. But the warm temperatures this week have made the  conditions exceptionally good.  Hatches are forecasted to start around noon, so anglers don't need to get going too early as the best fishing should occur in the afternoon and into the warm evening.

Photo: Taylor Feldman 

Posted by Missi on March 03, 2010 in

Saturday Market Expansion In Aspen

Saturday Market Expansion In Aspen
Aspen's Saturday Market expansion was approved by Aspen City Council on Monday. The expansion will allow for ten additional produce and arts and crafts vendors to set up booths in the market area. After consideration of the possiblilities for use of real estate to accomodate the new market area, the decision was made to extend one additional city block west into the 500 block of East Hyman Avenue.
Posted by Missi on March 02, 2010 in