July 2011

Aspen Sale July 27, 2011

Aspen Sale July 27, 2011

1095 Cemetery Lane

Independence View, Unit A


Four bedrooms/four baths

$683 per square foot

Asking price $2,499,000

91% of asking price

Photo by Gary Feldman

Posted by gary on July 28, 2011 in

American Airlines To Begin Direct Service to Dallas and Los Angeles

American Airlines To Begin Direct Service to Dallas and Los Angeles

Aspen finally landed American Eagle service between Aspen and Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles beginning December 15th.  As a direct result of the 1000 foot runway extension at Sardy Field, American Eagle's CRJ-700 jets can fly with full  passenger loads.

In addition to servicing Aspen's huge Texan contingent, the new service will make Aspen easier to reach from Australia and South America via American's hubs at DFW and LAX.

Tickets go on sale August 1st.

Posted by gary on July 27, 2011 in

Aspen Sale June 24, 2011

Aspen Sale June 24, 2011

326 Smuggler Street

West Smuggler Condos, Unit 2, Aspen


Four bedrooms/four baths

$1,652 per square foot

Asking price $$5,950,000

100% of asking price

Photo by Gary Feldman

Posted by gary on July 26, 2011 in

Aspen Sale July 15, 2011

Aspen Sale July 15, 2011

201 Silverlode Drive



Six bedrooms/five baths

$905 per square foot

Asking price $4,999,999

94% of asking price

Photo by Gary Feldman

Posted by gary on July 19, 2011 in

Aspen Sales July 13, 2011

Aspen Sales July 13, 2011

926 West Francis, Aspen

West End


Four bedrooms/four baths

$817 per square foot

Asking Price $4,523,000

88% of asking price

Riverview, Unit 10



Two bedrooms/two baths

$1,047 per square foot

Asking price $1,450,000

76% of asking price

Photo by Gary Feldman

Posted by gary on July 18, 2011 in

Significant Aspen Real Estate Closing - May 31, 2011

Significant Aspen Real Estate Closing - May 31, 2011

1400 Owl Creek Ranch, Aspen


Eight bedrooms/six baths

$1,634 per sqaure foot

Asking price $30,000,000

68% of asking price

Listed By JOSHUA & CO.

Photo by Gary Feldman

Posted by gary on July 18, 2011 in

Gary Feldman Quoted In Aspen Business Journal - July 18 2011

Gary Feldman Quoted In Aspen Business Journal - July 18 2011
ABJ May 2011 Real Estate Report: A tale of two cities
July 16, 2011, 10:31 am
May 2011 was the highest dollar volume month so far this year in terms of real estate sales in Pitkin County, and trends are pointing in an upward direction. Meanwhile, Garfield County’s numbers are also trending upward, fueled by a large number of bank sales.

More than $127 million worth of real estate changed hands in Pitkin County in May, an increase of 56 percent over the same month last year, according to the monthly report from Land Title. It was also the first month this year that dollar volume was higher than the same month in 2008—the year the market turned sharply downward.

Giving a big boost to the May numbers was a $20.5 million sale in Owl Creek Ranch. This and other recent (and continuing) high-end sales show that the “big money” is most assuredly back in the market, says Realtor Gary Feldman.

“Now we’re seeing a second phase of the recovery which includes having the big money back in the market,” said Feldman, who is managing partner of Joshua and Co. real estate. “So we’re seeing a substantial increase in $10 to $20 million sales.”

According to Feldman, the Aspen area market appears to have bottomed in June 2009, although sales were “bouncing along the bottom” for much of 2009 and 2010. Things started trending up in 2010, most notably high-end luxury properties, which are generally “a leading indicator” for the rest of the market, said Feldman.

“When the $10 million plus money comes back it’s usually slightly ahead of the rest of the market,” said Feldman.

Transaction volume is also trending up, though not as much as dollar volume. May saw 54 transactions, an increase of 23 percent over May 2010. Year to date, the increase is approximately 10 percent, with 323 transactions so far in 2011.

The lack of what Feldman calls “velocity,” or number of buyers, in the market is a sign that the local real estate market isn’t quite back to “normal,” but it is trending that way, he said.

“We’re seeing a kind of slow return to a normal real estate market, just a different equilibrium,” said Feldman.

Normal in Aspen means that both the high end and low end of the market is really active, while the middle—in this case the $5 to $10 million range—is typically sluggish. However, Feldman pointed out, the “middle” is fluid in price range, changing with how the low end and high ends are defined.

In May, Aspen had the most transactions, with 26 sales totaling $94 million. Snowmass Village saw $25 million worth of sales in eight transactions; Old Snowmass had three sales totaling $1.5 million; and Basalt saw two sales for $411,000.

While it’s typical for Aspen to lead the way in sales (and is historically last in, first out of any downturn), the most prevalent recent geographic trend is that “the best properties in the best locations are selling,” said Feldman, who points out that he sold a $13.2 million ranch in late April.

Besides location, buyers are still looking for value, said Feldman, but the gap between sellers’ and buyers’ expectations is slowly narrowing. In 2008, he explained, sellers’ perceptions of their properties’ value was heading up while buyers’ perceptions were going down—and that created the collapse in real estate values. Now they’re starting to see a little bit more eye to eye.

“A new equilibrium has been reached,” said Feldman, “where buyers are willing to buy and sellers are willing to sell.”
Photo by Gary Feldman

May transactions at a glance


  • Dollar volume: $127,403,833
  • Number of transactions: 54
  • Increase over May 2010 (dollar volume): 56%
  • Increase over May 2010 (transaction volume) 23%
  • Year-to-date dollar volume: $526,024,210 (17% increase)
  • Year-to-date transactions: 323 (10% increase)
  • Bank sales: Five sales, $1.41 million (1% of sales and dollar volume)
  • Year-to-date bank sales: 31, $19.4 million (3.6% of dollar volume)
  • Average single-family home price: $4,839,635 (up 11%)
  • Median single-family home price: $3,150,000 (down 1 %)
  • Fractional sales: 15 (7% increase over May 2010)
  • Fractional dollar volume: $6,720,900 (22% decrease from May 2010)

Posted by gary on July 18, 2011 in

Aspen Board of Realtors Observer - July 2011

Aspen Board of Realtors Observer - July 2011

ABOR ObserverJULY 2011 A rundown 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.

Aspen — Private rentals may be subject to tax collectionsAspen homeowners who offer their properties as vacation rentals may be required to pay sales and lodging taxes under a plan being considered by the Aspen City Council. The homeowners may also need to pay for an annual business license and a related permit.  Aspen officials are inventorying hundreds of vacation rentals in order to bring them into compliance with current and potentially revised rules. The city finance department estimates that the government is losing out on nearly $100,000 in sales and lodging taxes because property owners fail to pay them.  Developer sues to halt Dancing Bear foreclosureA foreclosure auction of Aspen’s Dancing Bear project is scheduled for July 3, but the developer has filed a lawsuit seeking a halt to the sale.

Tom DiVenere’s DB Capital Holdings and related companies accuse lender West LB of bad faith and predatory lending practices. If the sale is not stopped, the Dusseldorf, Germany-based bank, which is owed $48 million on the project will submit its minimum required bid to the county by Friday afternoon.

The Dancing Bear is a fractional ownership club located on Monarch Street in downtown Aspen. The first phase, across the street from Wagner Park, was completed in early 2009. The second phase, at the site of the former Chart House restaurant, was partially completed when construction came to a halt in the summer of 2009.
 Historic cabins prove difficult to sellThe Deep Powder cabins, part of Aspen’s lodging inventory for about 50 years until being displaced by the redevelopment of the Limelight Lodge, have proven to be of little value in the modern economy.  The city saved two of the cabins and has been looking for local, preservation-minded buyers without success since 2006.  After no one local could be found, the cabins were listed on PublicSurplus.com, an eBay-like website for government property. The two cabins sold online for $500.99 and $661.  Adding insult to injury, the buyer of the more expensive cabin backed out of the purchase after costs and permitting for moving the cabin across state lines proved to be prohibitive. Judge rules Jerome owners exempt from RETTPitkin County District Court Judge Gail Nichols ruled that the Hotel Jerome’s current ownership is not subject to Aspen’s real estate transfer tax because they assumed ownership through a deed in lieu of foreclosure. The ruling means that Jerome Ventures LLC and Jerome Property LLC — groups representing Chicago businessmen Fred Latsko and Mark Hunt — will be excused from at least $375,000 in real estate transfer taxes. Judge Nichols found that the city was using a too-narrow of an interpretation of its own municipal code in pursuing the tax on the Jerome transfer. The city in the past has excused new owners from the tax when they acquired the land in the same way as Latsko and Hunt. Aspen man seeks new pesticide rulesChris Wurtele, who continues to suffer from headaches and fatigue after being exposed to the pesticide bifenthrin that near his home in September 2010, has asked City Council to enact an ordinance requiring city departments to use organic or “least toxic” pesticides on city property, and notify the public prior to their application.  Bifenthrin is used regionally to kill mountain pine beetles and other pests. Applicators wear protective suits and respirators when using it.

State law prevents local governments from regulating pesticide use by landowners and private sector contractors. However, anyone with pesticide sensitivity can join a state registry that requires contractors to give prior notification if they are applying pesticides nearby.  Aspen Walk proposal heading to City CouncilBankruptcy court in Minnesota recently approved a request by two real estate developers for additional funds from a previously approved loan to cover the costs of final approval hearings for the Aspen Walk development on Park Ave. The ruling sets the stage for a public hearing before City Council on July 11.

PFG Aspen Walk is proposing to partner with the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority, which owns 414 Park Circle — containing 11 apartments for low income workers — just up the hill from its property at 404 Park Ave. Both buildings would be torn down to make way for the new structure. The developer would provide all the construction financing.

If approved, Aspen Walk would result in 40,968 square feet of development on the site, spread out in  two buildings. The Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4-2 to recommend approval of the project in May, but has requested that a roof-top deck on the free market building be removed. City planning staff has also raised issues with the “livability” of the affordable housing units.
 Fire District recoups half of $305,000 owned by contractorThe Aspen Fire Protection District has recouped about half of the money it is owed by the general contractor that built the new firehouse.  After Fenton Construction failed to pay $305,000 to 12 subcontractors who worked on the project, the fire district dipped into its funds to make good on the bills. Fire department officials say Fenton has repaid $141,000. Art museum nears fundraising goal; adds Armstrong to boardAspen Art Museum director and curator Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson says pledged donations for the new 30,000-square-foot Aspen Art Museum are at $42 million, up from $7 million since April. The museum’s goal is to raise $50 million — $30 million for the building and $20 million for its endowment — before breaking ground. Cyclist Lance Armstrong joined the museum’s board last month. Skier visits up 1.7 percent last yearAspen Skiing Co.’s skier visits rose 1.7 percent during the winter of 2010-2011, marking a second year of growth. The relatively flat numbers came after a stronger than expected early season. Skico in January reported a 7 percent rise in year-over-year business during the first six weeks of the ski season.  Summer bookings look solidSummer bookings at local lodges have been strong through June, although occupancy levels still are not what they were before the recession hit.  Visitor numbers for the Food & Wine Weekend was strong, and the final week of June was tracking ahead of the same week last year, thanks in part to the change in timing of the Aspen Ideas Festival.  Pitkin County —Judge rules Rio Grande Trail constitutes a “taking”A federal judge ruled that a local landowner along the Rio Grande Trail must be compensated for losses connected to the conversion of the railroad right-of-way into the trail.

Harriett Noyes and her family’s Ellamae Phillips Co. filed suit against the federal government in 2004, claiming that its rails-to-trails program, which authorizes local governments to convert abandoned rail lines into recreational trails, resulted in a “taking” and entitled them to compensation under the Fifth Amendment.

The Noyes’ family has owned 75 acres of land on both sides of the Roaring Fork River 12 miles downvalley from Aspen since 1934. Railroad operations through the property ceased in the early 1980s, and the tracks were eventually removed and converted into the Rio Grande Trail.
 Had the conversion not occurred, the Noyes family would have resumed ownership of the 200-foot easement and been able to develop their property with as many as four riverfront home sites. Judge Lawrence M. Baskir ruled that recreational trail use is so far removed from the railroad use for which the easement was originally granted that the conversion amounts to a taking. It’s unclear whether the ruling will set off a wave of takings claims in the Roaring Fork Valley or other rails-to-trails sites, but it is considered precedent setting.  The federal government has 60 days to appeal. County mining claims may soon go on marketPitkin County is examining its ownership of 40 mining claims and deciding whether they should be sold or transferred. County manager Jon Peacock said the effort is designed to determine whether there are any public benefits to the county owning the land. If there aren’t, the county will look at ways to dispose of them, either by deeding them to other jurisdictions or selling them to private interests. Some of the claims may hold development rights, which will also factor into how there are dealt with. County sued over denial of 15,000 square feetLandowner David Boehm is suing Pitkin County and the board of commissioners for denying his proposal for a 15,000 square foot home along Maroon Creek. The suit, which lists Celestial Land Co. as the plaintiff, challenges a county-imposed limit of 8250 square feet on the property, which is located in an active alluvial fan prone to landslides.

Pot regulations nixed in face of Federal threatsSpooked by federal threats against state-sanctioned medical marijuana programs, Pitkin County commissioners abruptly backed off from instituting rules regulating the local growth and sale of medicinal marijuana. The draft ordinance under consideration set minimum distances from neighbors and limits on the lot sizes of grow operations.

County attorney John Ely advised the commissioners not to take any action in light of recent warnings from the Justice Department that regulating marijuana, under the guise of state medical pot laws, is a violation of federal drug laws. Alpine Grove first Energy Smart neighborhoodAlpine Grove and its 32 homeowners became the first neighborhood to enter Pitkin County’s Energy Smart program.

A team of experts recently assessed energy use home-by-home, and installed quick-fix features such as efficient light bulbs and faucets. Additional recommendation that identify opportunities for more extensive energy-saving overhauls will be forthcoming.
 Trail system rules revised to expand disabled accessThe county open space and trails department is expanding trail access system-wide for people with disabilities by allowing then to use some electric bicycles and Segway-type vehicles. The change is a result of new Americans with Disabilities Act regulations issued in March that more clarify the definition a “wheelchair” and guarantee access to public areas on other types electric vehicles.  Trail rangers have the legal authority to ask anyone using such devices about their disability and need, and ticket those without a sufficient reason.  Hunter Creek Cutoff trail temporarily closed The Hunter Creek Cutoff, the popular connector trail that runs from the observation deck on Smuggler Mountain to the Hunter Creek Valley, will be closed on weekdays through the first half of July. Crews will be toppling 170 trees along the trail as part of a forest health initiative. County officials are urging people to honor the closure, as the work involved is extremely dangerous. Hikers and bikers will be routed to trails further up the Smuggler jeep road that circle back to the end of the cutoff, so the loop is still an option. The trail will be closed to Monday through Friday from about 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It will be open on weekends, including a four day stretch over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.   Snowmass Village —Droste vs. Droste over open space proceedsBrothers Bruce and Peter Droste are in a legal battle over the $17 million sale of their 841-acre Brush Creek Ranch to Pitkin County.

Proceeds from the sale were distributed in four equal parts to the brothers and trusts set up for their children. A small percentage also went to their parents, Albert and Mary Droste.

But Peter Droste claims in court documents that he facilitated the sale by, at considerable cost, obtaining development rights for the property, attending meetings and developing proposals over a 15 year period . The lawsuit seeks to require Bruce Droste and his children's trust to compensate Peter Droste for “his personal time and financial expenditures made in furtherance of developing Brush Creek Ranch.”  Romero resigns from governor’s cabinet, returns to RelatedAspen resident Dwayne Romero cited time management challenges in his decision to resign as Gov. John Hickenlooper’s head of the Office of Economic Development and International Trade. The weekly commute from Aspen to Denver and the position’s extensive travel demands kept him away from home too much. Romero will resume fulltime duties as president of Related Colorado in Snowmass Village, which he had continued part time since taking the cabinet post. Fab reviews for new trailThe first trail through the newly acquired, 850-acre open space between Owl and Brush Creeks opened to hikers, bikers and horseback riders last month to rave reviews. It is described as strenuous, sensational, rugged and filled with stirring views. Local and state authorities continue work on a long-term management plan that includes including wildlife habitat preservation and future trail development. Base Village down to two restaurants this summerBase Village has fewer eating and drinking options this summer, following the shut down of one restaurant and the summer closure of another. Buchi Sushi has closed its doors for good, and Sneaky's is closed until around Thanksgiving..

The Viceroy Snowmass Hotel continues to offer specialty dishes at the Nest Lounge and Café. The Sweet Life and Base Camp Bar and Grill remain open for business in Base Village. And most of the familiar restaurants and retail stores on the Snowmass Mall are open for the summer.
 Snowmass seeks public site for massive sculptureFinding the perfect spot to place a sculpture in Snowmass Village has challenged a local group dedicated to the placement of public art.

Artist Bland Hoke's sculpture “Sheer Bliss” weighs about 8 tons and is roughly 48 feet long. He created it in 2008 at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, using a stout length of the old Sheer Bliss chairlift cable, held aloft by towers of old snowmaking pipe.

It is currently located near the Sheer Bliss lift, but the U.S. Forest Service wants it moved off the ski slope, which is part of the national forest.

Jim Kehoe, chairman of the Public Art Committee said “Sheer Bliss” offers a potentially exciting addition to the mix of public sculptures in Snowmass Village. The committee hopes to arrange relocation this summer.
Posted by gary on July 07, 2011 in