May 2010

Significant Aspen Real Estate Closings - May 19 through May 24, 2010

Significant Aspen Real Estate Closings - May 19 through May 24, 2010

White Horse Springs, Lot 19, Block 1

Aspen

$6,000,000

Woodrun I, Lot 109

Snowmass Village

$4,896,850

Lot 7, Section 6, Townhsip 9 Range 85

$2,668,000

Residences at The Little Nell, Unit F407

Aspen

$1,800,000

Posted by gary on May 31, 2010 in
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ORD To ASE

ORD To ASE

United Airlines will begin nonstop direct flights from Chicago to Aspen for the first time in the summer months this year. The return flight will require a stop in Denver for refueling.

The service is planned on Saturdays, according to Bill Tomcich, president of reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass and the resort's liaison to the airline industry.

A plan to extend the Aspen airport runway is in the works, but until that occurs, weight restrictions on takeoff during the warmer months of summer mean a direct flight back to Chicago isn't possible, he said.

Posted by gary on May 26, 2010 in
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Amen Wardy Changes Locations

Amen Wardy Changes Locations
Off season continues to be a time of relocation for many of Aspen's retailers.  Amen Wardy is moving from its prominent corner location in the Elks Building to the Ajax Mountain Building across from the Gondola.  It will occupy the location previously home to Noori's Collection.  The Ute Mountaineer will occupy the Elks Building space.
Posted by gary on May 26, 2010 in
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Mother Nature Cancels Skiing Over Memorial Day Weekend

Mother Nature Cancels Skiing Over Memorial Day Weekend

The end is here.  Warm temperatures have melted the remaining base needed for a continous ski run from the top of the Silver Queen Gondola to the chairlift resulting in a "no-go" for skiing this weekend.

Of course, you can still hike the high country and ski for free.

Posted by gary on May 26, 2010 in
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Land Title's April, 2010 Summary of Pitkin County Property Sales

Land Title's April, 2010 Summary of Pitkin County Property Sales
Please see attached for the latest market analysis, courtesy of Land Title Guarantee Company Summary for the month of April 
  • $168,793,594 - total dollar volume, up 128% from April 2009
    • Included in the total dollar volume was a notable commercial transaction of $37.9 million in Aspen
  • 71 – total transactions, up 54% from April 2009
  • Year to date, through April, total dollar volume $376,527,197, up 9.7% from same time period last year
  • Year to date transactions total 250, up 4.6% from same time period last year
  • Aspen reported the highest number of transactions with 31, there were 20 interval units, Snowmass Village 10, Basalt and Old Snowmass each reported 3, Carbondale and Redstone reported 2 each as well
  • Aspen dollar volume totaled $136.8 million, Snowmass Village $12.6 million, Interval units $10.2 million, Old Snowmass $5.9 million, Redstone $1.3 million, Basalt $1 million, and Carbondale $820,000
  • There were no sales bank sales in Pitkin County in the month of April, there have only been 2 recorded thus far in 2010
  • The average single family home sold price through April is $4,078,773, a decrease of 17% from full year 2009
  • The median single family home sold price though April is $3,550,000, an increase of 13% from full year 2009
    • Please see page 4 of the PDF for additional detail by area as well and multi family and land details
  • Fractional activity showed a nice increase in dollar volume for the month with $10,248,962 reported, up 91% from April 2009
  • There were 20 fractional transactions, an increase of 18% from April 2009
    • 6 at the Little Nell, 5 at the Hyatt, 2 each at the Ritz, Sanctuary, and Snowmass Club, and 1 each at Roaring Fork Club, Shadow Mountain Lodge, and Timbers Club
  • Through April, fractional dollars total $28.9 million, a decrease of 77%  from same time period 2009
  • Through April, fractional transactions total 57, which is a decrease of 56% from the same time period 2009
Posted by gary on May 25, 2010 in
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Significant Aspen Real Estate Closings - May 12 - May 18, 2010

Significant Aspen Real Estate Closings - May 12 - May 18, 2010

Timbers Club, Unit C2 1/8 interest

Snowmass Village

$375,000

Stonebridge Condo, Unit 625

Snowmass Village

$1,300,000

Crestwood Condo, Unit 306

Snowmass Village

$905,000

Ridge Run IV, Lot 10

Snowmass Village

$2,900,000

Lot 10, Section 23, Township 9

Aspen

$7,000,000

City of Aspen Subdivision, Lot R, Block 98

Aspen

$3,100,000

Larkspur Condo, Unit B5

Aspen

$11,530,000

 

Posted by Lauren on May 25, 2010 in
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Will We Be Skiing This Memorial Day Weekend?

Will We Be Skiing This Memorial Day Weekend?

The Aspen Skiing Company is considering opening the top half of Aspen Mountain for skiing this Memorial Day weekend.

Unusually heavy snowstorms since the end of the ski season have left the upper half of Ajax with great spring skiing condition.  The Ski Company should announce its' decision soon.

Posted by gary on May 20, 2010 in
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Significant Aspen Real Estate Closings - May 1 - May 10, 2010

Significant Aspen Real Estate Closings - May 1 - May 10, 2010

Monarch on the Park, Penthouse 2

Aspen

$6,000,000

1207 East Hopkins

Aspen

$5,200,000

Mountain Valley, Lot 55

Aspen

$2,600,000

Gant, J301

Aspen

$1,500,000

Residence at the Little Nell, Unit F403

Aspen

$1,500,000

City of Aspen, Lot Q

Aspen

$1,450,000

Residences at the Little Nell, Unit F300

Aspen

$1,100,000

 

Posted by gary on May 17, 2010 in
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Aspen Board of Realtors May Observer

Aspen Board of Realtors May Observer
THE OBSERVERMAY 2010 Top Story —Willits under receivershipChicago-based Joseph Freed & Associates lost control of the Willits Town Center project after a judge appointed a receiver to oversee the property while Bank of America attempts to foreclose on its loan to the developer. The receiver, appointed by an Eagle County district judge, will oversee the day-to-day operations and make financial decisions regarding Willits Town Center.

Bank of America claims that Willits Town Center Partners LLC, which is controlled by JFA, has defaulted on two loans and owes nearly $36 million, according to court documents.

The center is a partially developed project that includes approvals for another 150 residences and 281,000 square feet of commercial space. Whole Foods Market has an agreement to open a grocery store there once a new building is constructed.
 It is uncertain how the dispute between the lender and developer will affect construction of the Whole Foods building. The foreclosure action and receivership doesn't affect the Triangle Park lofts building, home of the popular El Korita and Smoke restaurants.

JFA said it remains committed to the success of the project and is seeking a lender to replace Bank of America so it can complete development of the Basalt project. Tim Belinski remains the Basalt-based vice president of development for JFA.

A foreclosure sale is scheduled for August.
 Aspen —Council skeptical on Buttermilk redevelopmentOwners of the Inn at Aspen at the base of Buttermilk want their property annexed into the city of Aspen in order to allow redevelopment.
Documents on file with the city calls for 220 condominiumized hotel rooms, 25 free-market suites and affordable housing.  The building would be four stories tall in some areas, with 50 percent of its roofline be higher than 50 feet. The current building has 124 units and is two stories tall.

Councilman Torre was extremely skeptical. He cited Aspen Highlands, which is seen as falling short of the vitality that the community hoped for, and Snowmass Base Village, which lost its financing part way through construction, in pointing out the lack of success that ski area base developments have had over the last 15 years.
 
If the owners are seeking the same type of entitlements pursued for lodging developments in the downtown core, then Torre said the redevelopment would not likely have his support. Mayor Mick Ireland expressed similar skepticism.
 Bidwell redevelopment gaining supportThe latest revisions to the plan for redeveloping the Mountain Plaza Building at Galena and Cooper won general support from the Aspen City Council. Changes to the proposal were made after considerable resistance from area neighbors. They include one less level of underground parking and a revised mix of commercial and residential space.   The Bidwell family has proposed demolishing their two-story Mountain Plaza Building, to construct a new, three-story, mixed-use structure. Mayor Mick Ireland and Councilman Torre both suggested that the owners consider extensively remodeling the building rather than demolishing it.  A final decision isn’t expected on the project before mid-July. Lift 1A property was one of several considered by Boston groupMark Potter, co-founder of the Boston-based group Alcion Ventures, which recently purchased the land below Lift 1A that is proposed for the Lodge at Aspen Mountain, said they had been looking at several distressed properties in the area before settling on a purchase.
 
He said his group considered purchasing Snowmass Base Village and the Stage 3 theater site, both of which are halted due to a lack of financing, but never really took their eye off the land at the base of Aspen Mountain. The site has vested approvals for 14 luxury townhomes and 17 affordable housing units.
 Representatives from Alcion have been meeting with community development staff to discuss plans they have in mind for the site, but have yet to make their plans public.

Potter and a partner at Alcion, Martin Zieff, were involved in the development of the Hyatt Grand Aspen with the group AEW Capital Management.
 City OKs project under new affordable guidelinesAspen City Council unanimously approved a moderately sized project in Aspen’s West End that will be the first to utilize a new affordable housing credit program. The recently initiated affordable housing credit program permits affordable housing to be built without any specific mitigation purpose. The developer has the right to sell or rent the units, and also sell affordable housing credits to developers of free market projects to cover housing mitigation requirements.  Developer John Cooper won approval to build a 4,024-square-foot , eight-unit development at 301 W. Hyman Ave. Entrance back on ballotVoters will be asked once again this November to chime in on how to manage traffic through the Entrance to Aspen, a question that has baffled the community since the late 1960s.
The ballot question will offer several alternatives that have been debated and analyzed in the past. The council agreed that the ballot question needs to provide details about each alternative that include information estimated cost, time savings and whether it requires further environmental analysis.

City Council will then ideally pursue whatever direction the majority of city voters give them. Red Onion to reopen June 1The Red Onion, Aspen’s oldest bar, is scheduled to reopen at the beginning of next month, three years after it was originally closed for renovation.

Thomas Colosi, chef and owner for 11 years of the popular Blue Maize restaurant (where La Palapa is now), is promising a large menu that won’t break the bank.
 The restaurant will seat about 100 people. The interior will be decked out with all new furniture, giving the restaurant more of a high-end feel than before.  Limelight deal closes for nearly $38 millionAspen Skiing Co. paid the Paas family $37.9 million for the Limelight Hotel in downtown Aspen. The hotel is a 100,000-square-foot property with 126 moderately priced rooms and is located on Monarch Street, across from Wager Park.   Skico hired Richard Stettner to be the new Limelight general manager. Stettner is currently the resort manager with Exclusive Resorts in Denver, where he manages operations for 103 vacation residences. Dale Paas, whose family had owned the Limelight for five decades, will continue to work at the hotel.  Citizen task force to propose voting changesAspen City Council and a citizen committee will spend the next few months evaluating voting methods in order to present a viable list of options for city voters to choose from in November.

Voters will be considering whether to repeal their 2007 decision to adopt an instant runoff voting system, in which voters rank their candidate preference. 
 Instant runoff voting was adopted as an alternative to runoff elections, which became the local practice after the multi-candidate mayoral race in 1999 resulted in Rachel Richards being seated with less than 50 percent of the vote.

The ballot question on voting will likely include the three methods that have been used locally in recent years plus any other viable methods found by the commission and City Council.  If none of the alternatives garner majority support, the instant runoff system will remain in place.
 Recycling improvements planned at Rio Grande ParkAspen City Council has signed off on plans to spend $175,000 to pave and landscape the existing recycling drop-off center at Rio Grande Park, with the aim of making it more aesthetically pleasing and easier to keep clean.

The new drop-off center will include security cameras, which would be used to track down people who use the recycling center for dumping trash, furniture and other items not intended for the center.
 Is 25 mph too fast for Aspen?City officials are considering lowering the speed limit throughout Aspen to 20 miles per hour. The idea came out of a proposal to lower the speed limit to 20 m.p.h. on Smuggler Street, which becomes a major thoroughfare during high season afternoons by drivers looking to get around back ups on Main Street.  Council members instructed the city’s engineering department to conduct a study and get back to them by June. Most streets in town have a 25-miles-per-hour speed limit.  Expanded farmers market takes shapeThe expanded Saturday farmer’s market will open in mid-June with approximately 10 additional booths selling produce and arts and crafts.  The mix will include one booth that is available on a rotating basis for local retailers and another, also available on a rotating basis, for local nonprofits. City Manager under contractThe city of Aspen and City Manager Steve Barwick agreed to a contract that sets his salary at $170,352, and establishes a severance package. Barwick has worked for the City for 10 years without a contract. Snowmass —Snowmass not ready to call itself blightedSnowmass Village Town Council isn’t ready yet to describe large portions of town as “blighted.”

Town officials had been mulling creation of an urban renewal authority, a quasi-governmental body that would have power within a specific geographical area to acquire and condemn property, issue bonds and take on redevelopment projects. Such actions are reserved for areas that can be classified as blight under state law.
The city of Denver has used an urban renewal authority to transform the old Stapleton airport site into a residential community. Steamboat Springs created an urban renewal authority to spark redevelopment of the base area of its ski mountain.

The associated costs are high because the urban renewal authority would pay fair market value for any property it condemns, and the expenses of any residents or businesses that have to relocate as a result of its actions.

Town Manager Russ Forrest warned the council that “blight is a strong word that brings up a lot of connotations.” The council deadlocked on whether to proceed, effectively killing the proposal.
 Silvertree sues Related Westpac, othersOwners of the Silvertree Hotel have filed a lawsuit demanding $5.3 million from a group that includes Related Westpac LLC, for backing out of a deal to buy the hotel and two other properties.

The suit claims that the prospective buyers had agreed to pay $5 million to the hotel's owners, the Burwell family, if the three-property sale did not close by 5 p.m. April 15. Prior to that deadline, however, the buyers — Related Westpac, Silvertree Joint Venture LLC and Lower Silvertree LLC — reneged on the contract, the suit says.

Along with the $5 million, the suit also seeks $300,000 that the purchasers agreed to pay to cover the cost of maintaining the hotel from May 1, 2009, to April 15.
 Viceroy remains in limboLegal action against the Snowmass Base Village owner and its Viceroy condominium hotel development expanded again last month, bringing the number of units in litigation to 53 of the 80 that are under contract. Meanwhile, the deadline originally set for closings on units has passed with none taking place.

Attorneys for plaintiffs representing 48 of the units have successfully combined their legal actions and are asking for summary judgment on one of the claims — which means that part of the case might be decided within the next month.

Sinclair Meadows lots sold in foreclosure auctionAlpine Bank was the sole bidder on the undeveloped Sinclair Meadows subdivision in Snowmass Village, paying $12 million for 17 free market lots.

But the bank held the debt on the property going into the sale, and took a $6.7 million hit on the transaction.

Sinclair Meadows is part of a portfolio of bad loans on five local properties that Alpine Bank is selling. The portfolio included the note on the Lodge at Aspen Mountain property at the base of Aspen Mountain, which recently sold for $15 million, and the former Stage 3 property on Main Street in Aspen.
 Skittles funding, operations sketchyThe Sky Cab pulse gondola linking Base Village to the Snowmass mall will run seven days per week this summer, despite a shaky financial situation.  Last summer, gondola hours were scaled back to a Wednesday through Saturday  schedule after cost concerns arose midway through the season.
Except during winter ski hours, when the costs are covered by the Aspen Skiing Co., operations are funded by a property tax levied on Base Village property owners by a special tax district known as a General Improvement District. Because Base Village has not been built out as planned, revenues are considerably lower than expected.

Town Council directed Forest to begin working on funding ideas. Sales tax collections down again in FebruarySales tax collections in Snowmass Village were down nearly 8 percent in February compared to the same month in 2009.

The lodging sector was off 14 percent for the month. Food, drug and liquor stores collected 6 percent less. On the upside, restaurant sales came in nearly 7 percent higher; and collections in the sports equipment and clothing retail sector grew 5 percent.
 Overall sales tax collections are down about 3.5 percent for 2010.  Basalt —Basalt proposal nearly voted downAn application to build 80 residences just west of the Basalt post office was nearly rejected by the Basalt Town Council, despite the developers’ pledge to contribute up to $1 million to help ease the town’s flood threat. Councilwoman Jacque Whitsitt took issue with the project’ density and traffic implications, especially for the nearby intersection of Emma Road and Midland Avenue. She was also concerned that it would adversely affect wetlands at the site, which is adjacent to the Roaring Fork River.  Jadwin Parcel Investors LLC asked the board before to allow them to withdraw the application, so they can rework it and go back through the review and annexation process. A formal rejection would have meant to a one-year ban on new applications for the site.

The Jadwin partners want to build 24 deed-restrict units, 16 resident-occupied units with a 5 percent annual appreciation cap, and another 40 units in the free market condominiums and town homes on eight acres just outside the town boundary.

Basalt projects under waySeveral moderate scale projects are under way in Basalt this spring to preserve the town’s history, promote the arts, improve pedestrian mobility and reduce the town’s carbon footprint: • Stabilization and preservation of the Fryingpan Kilns at Arbaney Park. The majority of the $347,000 cost will be covered by a grant from the Colorado State Historical Fund, with 25 percent coming from the town and community groups.

• The Wyly Community Arts Center and the town are remodeling the old library, which they plan to share. The arts center was awarded a lease to about 60 percent of the space by the town and relocated on May 1. The town will soon move the planning department into its portion of the building.

• The town applied for a grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation to study the feasibility of a pedestrian overpass or underpass at Highway 82 to connect old town Basalt with Southside.

• The town, with support from state agencies, continues to explore the possibility of developing a micro-hydro system that takes advantage of the municipal water supply coming from the Lucksinger Springs and Basalt Springs on Basalt Mountain.
  Pitkin County —Recession ravages area job marketThe Roaring Fork Valley has suffered higher job losses during the recession than Colorado as a whole, according to a report by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

Between the third quarter of 2008 and the third quarter of 2009, Pitkin County’s total employment fell by 2,092 jobs, a 12 percent decline.

Garfield County, hit with a double whammy of collapsing natural gas prices and construction spending, shed 4,604 jobs, a decline of 15.5 percent.

And Eagle County experienced a 13 percent drop in employment, 4,268 positions in all.
 The hardest hit sectors were construction and tourism in Eagle and Pitkin Counties, and construction and mining in Garfield County. Statewide, employment fell by an average of 6 percent in the same period. Energy funding program set to beginPitkin County residents can soon begin applying for assistance through the Energy Smart Loan Program, which homeowners to borrow money for energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades and pay the money back in annual installments through a special assessment on their property tax bill.  The county expects to begin processing applications in early or mid-June. Comments being taken on runway extensionA public open house and hearing will take place May 12 at the Pitkin County Library on the draft environmental assessment for the proposed extension of the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport runway. The open house begins at 5:30 p.m., with the public hearing at 6:45 p.m.

The environmental assessment is available for public review and comment; the comment period ends May 24. The document addresses the potential economic, social and environmental consequences of the proposed extension.

Comments may be provided verbally at the hearing, e-mailed to
comments@aspenairportplanning.com or written and mailed to the airport administration office at Aspen/Pitkin County Airport; 0223 E. Airport Road; Aspen, CO 81611.

Copies of the draft environmental assessment are available on the documents page of the
www.aspenairportplanning.com website and can be viewed at the airport administration office during regular business hours.
 Schwartz warns midvalley constituents of coming cutsState Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village warned midvalley residents that next year will be tough on the state budget because federal stimulus funds will run out and there’s a lag time for dollars from a recovering economy to reach state coffers.  Colorado has made $2 billion in budget cuts the past two years, including $260 million in K-12 education, which accounts for 46 percent of the state budget. Education, health care, human services and higher education are also all expected to see drastic cuts in support from the state. Schwartz, who is running for reelection, noted that Colorado state government remains extremely supportive of energy initiatives that promote conversion to clean power, including rooftop solar systems.  She also took the opportunity to express her strong support for the bill that protects the rights of local municipalities to use deed restrictions to create affordable rental housing. AVH receives tax extensionAspen Valley Hospital district voters reauthorized a property tax of 1.5 mills, through 2015, a five-year extension.

A mill equals one dollar of taxes collected per $1,000 of assessed property valuation.
 Richards seeks re-election to BOCCPitkin County Commissioner Rachel Richards announced she will run for a second term on the board.

Richards said she will continue to protect local water from being diverted to the Front Range, a threat she called a “slow moving landslide.”

She said her experience will be valuable as the county tackles major transportation issues, including runway expansion at Sardy Field, and implementation of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s bus rapid transit system.
 Richards said there are important principles in play with the Sutey-Two Shoes land exchange proposed by landowner Leslie Wexner, but hopes to see resolution as soon as possible. Pitkin County’s resistance has “only resulted in a better project being put forward,” she said, noting that that is only possible with a united front by the county commissioners.

On the Hidden Gems wilderness designation proposal, Richards she “supports the effort tremendously,” because with a potential doubling of the state’s population in the next 40 years, more wilderness will be crucial to preserving Colorado values.
 Osprey population growing in the valleyWildlife officials observed the first known pair of breeding ospreys in the valley in 2003, when a pair built a nest atop a power pole along the lower Roaring Fork River. Colonization of the valley by the raptors, which feed exclusively on fish, has been under way ever since.

A second pair has been observed in recent years building a nest near Rock Bottom Ranch, along the Roaring Fork River below Basalt. A third pair recently built and then abandoned a nest site atop a utility pole in Emma. And there is an unconfirmed report of a pair nesting near Ruedi Reservoir.

Ospreys appear to be fairly tolerant of human activity. But populations were decimated in the 1960s by the use of DDT, which also took the country’s bald eagles to the brink of extinction.
Posted by gary on May 10, 2010 in
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