Aspen Board of Realtors
of the government and business activity over the last month, with particular
focus on issues and items that are important to the Real Estate community.
AACP set for
adoption in July
The Aspen and Pitkin County
Planning and Zoning commissions have scheduled final review hearings on the
Aspen Area Community Plan for July 7, 12, 14 and 21.
Council recently rejected a proposal from Aspen Chamber Resort Association to update the economic study that was
used to help shape the policies in the plan, partly on the grounds that it
would cause additional delays with a plan that has been in the works for more
than two years.
Chamber requested the update, and offered to cover half the costs, arguing that
the plan relied too heavily on an economic study conducted during the heat of
the real estate bubble in 2008 and before the recession. The AACP study
examined the community’s economic drivers over a 50-year period, from 1958
adoption by the two P&Zs is expected on July 26, with a follow-up vote by
Aspen City Council later in the summer. The county commissioners will not hold
hearings or a vote on the final plan.
presses to recoup planning fees
Claiming it was misled on multiple
occasions,” the developer who proposed three single-family homes around the
Given Institute property is asking Aspen City Council to return nearly $8,700
in planning fees.
SC Acquisitions withdrew its development application in February, after working
for three months toward approval to preserve the now-demolished Given Institute
and surround it with three speculative luxury homes.
“Based on very specific directions and
input from Mayor Ireland
and other city representatives, SC Acquisitions revised its application
multiple times and accommodated every single one of the city’s requests, all at
significant expense. These efforts turned out to be wasteful and futile,” says
a letter from an attorney working for the firm.
The community development department is
recommending that City Council deny the fee refund, saying it “objects to the
notion that staff is responsible for the success of an application.”
additional 2011 spending
City Council approved $2.47 million in spending requests from city departments
above and beyond the 2011 budget passed last fall. The land-use and business
related items included:
for the Building Department to fund a review of the Aspen Valley
Hospital plans and cover
legal defense of the former inspector of the Community Development Department.
for the approved proposals under the city's Mining for Ideas program, which
gives money to fledgling enterprises and events that seek to bring more
visitors to Aspen.
from the water utility fund to complete the Thomas Reservoir Spillway this
closing date set
at the Wheeler’s 27-year run ends June 7 when the bar and restaurant closes its
doors for good. Owner Andrew Petrillo plans to close earlier than he originally
thought, partly based on the city’s desire to begin renovation for the next
proprietor as soon as possible.
The new “Wheeler Bar & Grill” will be a mid-priced bar and restaurant. It
is expected to open by Dec. 15.
avoids council runoff elections
in the city of Aspen
backed the three candidates for City Council by wide enough margins to avoid a
runoff election for the first time in recent memory.
drew the support of 900 voters, while his opponents Ruth Kruger and Andrew Kole
together garnered 875 votes. Kruger was favored by 725 voters and Kole by 150.
Home Rule Charter, a mayoral candidate needs to win 50 percent plus one vote in
order to win a multi-candidate race and avoid a runoff.
Skadron drew more than 900 votes and Adam Frisch came in with more than 850,
beating the 45 percent threshold needed to avoid runoffs in council races.
public-private land swap on the ballot was approved by voters by an
overwhelming margin, with 90 percent in favor.
building permits set to expire
city of Aspen
is notifying contractors that all inactive building permits will expire on June
30. The Community Development Department granted extensions to 67 permits in
2009 and again in 2010 in deference to challenging economic times. More than 60
of those permits are still inactive.
staffers reached a general agreement with representatives of the development
community that June 30 is a realistic target to organize and initiate
construction projects. If a project is unable to move forward, the permit will
Pre-sales list gauging demand at Burlingame
five dozen people have so far added their names to a list reserving a unit in
the final phases of the city’s Burlingame Ranch affordable housing project.
The list is being used to gauge demand for the planned 167-unit addition to the
development. A housing department
spokesman said the department would like to see 100 to 150 names on the
reservation list before the city pursues a bond election to pay for the
housing department also is pursuing partnerships with large employers in the
community to see if they would be willing to contribute funds to secure homes
for their employees.
works and safety authorities from Pitkin
Snowmass Village and Basalt are collaborating on
a “mud and flood” team.
The mud and flood team monitors river levels daily, has trained swift-water
rescuers and are working to communicate often and effectively with local
flood team already is providing sand and bags to residents in the most
flood-prone areas. Bags and sand are available at the Old Town Park in and the Storey Property near the
Basalt Store, and in Redstone.
Basalt Town Council separately authorized funds in
advance for emergency flood control. Town manager Bill Kane plans to put heavy
equipment on “stand-by” during projected peak runoffs so they are available to
remove debris from around bridges.
are encouraged to sign up for text message and e-mail emergency messaging on
the county’s Pitkin Alert system at www.pitkinalert.org and to call the local
flood hotline at 429-1800 for the latest information on runoff conditions.
activity picks up for the first time in three summers
the last two years, the recession has put a severe damper on construction
activity in the upper valley, but a mix of public and private projects promises
to make the summer of 2011 buzz with activity. They include:
St. Regis: The hotel closed April 4 to launch a
$30 million renovation of 179 rooms and
suites. The plan is to complete 90 rooms by June 14, in time for the Food &
Wine Classic. The restaurant, lounge and retail area will be open this summer
E. Main Street: Aspen City Council approved a plan
that includes three stories instead of four, larger setbacks from neighboring
properties, reduced mass, scale and density. The building will also include
three commercial spaces and one office space.
The two year
project will add medical facilities, office space, parking and housing at its
Castle Creek campus. Traffic delays along Castle Creek Road should be expected this
will cease service on Sept. 13-15 and again Oct. 4-6, when the runway is
shortened briefly as part of the work plan. Otherwise, work to add 1,000 feet
to the south end of the runway will cause few if any transportation head aches,
even to airline travelers.
Iselin Field: Iselin Field across from Aspen High
School will be its usual hub of activity in the
coming months, even as crews tear out grass and replace it with artificial
City Market: The extensive remodeling is expected to
be wrapped up by mid June, with wider aisles, a full-service
bakery/delicatessen and an expanded meat and seafood section.
are still some permit applications pending and approvals to be received from
the city of Aspen and from Pitkin County, but the Music Festival and School has
dusted off its four-year-old master plan for its Castle Creek campus and is
ready to embark on a project that will result in six major new buildings, and 19
new buildings in total. It will cost in the mid-$50 million range, and will
take three to four years to complete.
for Buttermilk redevelopment
The Aspen Skiing Co.’s plans for
extensive redevelopment of the Buttermilk base area are off the table for the
foreseeable future. The company told the county that its priority is to improve
the children’s center at the base and on-mountain upgrades. Tiehack is due for
new lifts this summer.
Meanwhile, the homeowners association
at the Inn at Aspen has been collecting
signatures for an annexation application into the city of Aspen. Owners of the condominium hotel plan
eventually to submit a redevelopment application.
County embarks on hydro electric study
Pitkin County agreed to spend $50,000 on a report outlining
ways to run a hydro electric plant while protecting the environmental health of
Castle and Maroon creeks.
The federal small-project license the city is now pursuing for the plant
requires an extensive federal environmental review, but the focus of the
federally-mandated studies are not expected to focus on the same issues as the
mediator of a March 22 meeting of various parties connected to the proposed
Castle Creek hydroelectric project will discuss a report on the outcomes on
June 16 at 5:30 p.m. at Paepcke Auditorium. Citizens will have an opportunity
to ask questions and express views on the project and its potential impacts.
meets with Thompson Divide
Scott Tipton and representatives of the Thompson Divide Coalition, a local
advocacy group aiming to eliminate gas drilling leases in order to conserve
land and water resources on public lands northwest of Carbondale, agreed to
keep talking about potential legislative solutions.
Thompson Divide area includes more than 220,000 acres of public land between Carbondale and McClure
Pass. There are upwards
of 70 idle gas drilling leases there, including land bordering ranches in Pitkin County
The coalition includes community leaders, conservationists and cattlemen from
proposal raises planning needs
A proposal to build short-term rental
cabins near Ashcroft is raising red flags with the Pitkin County Commissioners,
who are concerned they lack the necessary planning tools for the remote Castle Creek
Ashcroft Ski Touring owner John Wilcox is proposing to build seven small,
environmentally-friendly cabins on Montezuma Hill near the Pine Creek
Cookhouse. The Ashcroft area is not been
overseen by a citizen caucus, leaving the commissioners and county planners
without the system they rely on elsewhere for significant neighborhood
Commissioner George Newman suggested the county put together a master plan for
Ashcroft, although the commissioners will have to consider Wilcox’s proposal
extends building permits, again
The county commissioners are poised to
extend county building permits by 30 days, through the end of August, in order
to accommodate home builders whose approved projects have not broken ground due
to the economic downturn.
Commissioner George Newman said the county needs to eventually stop
accommodating builders and pushing the expiration date further out. “At some
point we’re starting to be taken advantage of,” he said.
redevelopment plans would double size of terminal
officials released nine conceptual designs for an overhauled county airport
that all call for building an 80,000-square-foot terminal, a multi-level
underground parking garage and bus hubs in various configurations.
The plans would all nearly double the size of the current airport terminal.
Five of the proposals would result in a brand new terminal, while the other
four remodel and expand on the current structure.
of the plans call for grand architecture or anything that would call attention
to the facility. Airport Director Jim Elwood said one of the most prevalent
desires of expressed in the public outreach process was that the, in airport
master plan meetings, was that it works well but not be an ostentatious travel
Planners will be studying environmental impacts and financial feasibility in
the coming months. The cost of any new work on the airport is to be paid for
through federal and local enterprise funds, which come from airport user fees.
Nobody happy in disputed approval
The Pitkin County
commissioners denied an appeal from a Maroon Creek
Valley landowner hoping
to build a 15,000-square-foot home on a landslide-prone hillside.
Boehm, through Celestial Land Co., appealed a ruling by hearing officer Jim
True that limits his ability to build beyond what’s already allowed on the
35-acre rural site near the T Lazy 7 ranch. The county previously approved at 8,250 square
feet, which is a right the owners still hold.
neighboring homeowners also appealed True’s findings, contesting that the
smaller, previously approved home is appropriate. They claim the approved site
is hazardously situated in an active alluvial fan where mountain debris is apt
to slide, and development, no matter the size, would make catastrophic
landslides more likely to head toward their homes.
The commissioners remanded the neighbors’ appeal back to True, in the hopes of
finding a less hazardous site on the lot, and upheld his denial of the
Snowmass Village’s Silvertree Hotel, the town’s conference
center and the Wildwood Lodge are under contract to a developer who plans on
leasing the Silvertree to a major international hotelier.
the deal goes through, it will end the 26-year ownership of the hotel by the
Burwell family. And it would set the Silvertree on a path toward possibly
becoming a Hyatt, Marriot or Starwood Hotels & Resorts operation.
donate to Snowmastadon fund
The Crown family, owners of the Aspen Skiing Co., along with
its Family Fund at Aspen Community Foundation, contributed $100,000 to the
Snowmastodon Fund. The fund, established by the Denver Museum of Nature and
Science, the town of Snowmass Village, and the
Snowmass Water and Sanitation District, covers the immediate cost of activities
related to the fossil excavation at the Ziegler Reservoir near Snowmass Village.
investing in three mountains
Aspen Skiing Co. is investing more than $27 million into its mountains this
summer on a variety of projects that include new restaurants, a ski lift and
mountain biking trails on Snowmass, Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands.
new Elk Camp restaurant is a two-year, $13 million project that is expected to
be ready for the 2012-13 ski season. It will replace Cafe Suzanne. It will be
located at the top of the Elk Camp gondola. It’s designed to function as both a
250-seat restaurant and a special event hall for private groups, as the Sundeck
does at the top of Aspen
Tiehack area with a new high-speed quad detachable chairlift. The $7 million
lift, will replace both the Upper Tiehack and Eagle Hill — aka lower Tiehack —
chairs, and cut ride time from18 to seven minutes. Homeowners in the Maroon
Creek subdivision, will pay a portion of the maintenance and operation for the
new lift over then next 10 years.
Merry-Go-Round restaurant on Aspen Highlands is being remodeled. The interior
remodel is dubbed “duct tape chic,” meaning it will be functional and
comfortable — not too sleek or snobby. The remodel will use the existing
footprint and the building will look the same from the outside. With the
interior reconfiguration, there is a seating loss of 25.
Udall bill would
loosen summer rules at ski areas
A bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Mark
Udall to change federal law restricting summer activity on national forest land
leased by ski area operators is working its way through the Congressional
Udall has pitched the measure as a boost to the summer tourism industry in ski
towns like Aspen,
Vail, Crested Butte and Steamboat Springs. It would officially give the Forest
Service the option to allow a wide variety of activities, including mountain biking
and on mountain concerts.
Aspen Skiing Co. officials support the measure, but say it won’t affect what
they do on their mountains after the snow melts. Instead, it will codify what
is already occurring here and at other resorts.