- Three bedrooms/two baths
- $1,337 per square foot
- Asking price $2,850,000
- 95% of asking price
1300 Mountain View Drive
- West Aspen
- Four bedrooms/three baths
- $798 per square foot
- Asking price $2,795,000
- 92% of asking price
810 W. Smuggler Street
- West End, Aspen
- Building site
- Asking price $2,495,000
- 87% of asking price
100 Alpine Lane
- Snowmass Village
- Five bedrooms/five baths
- $514 per square foot
- Asking price $2,495,000
- 85% of asking price
- Sold by Joshua & Co.
- Snowmass Village
- Four bedrooms/five baths
- $721 per square foot
- Asking price $3,690,000
- 82% of asking price
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.
Inside this month’s Observer …
Aspen— Short term condo rentals focus of zoning discussion…
Snowmass Village – Snowmass Club sale set to close in January …
Basalt – Continuing care center gets $2 million boost…
Pitkin County – County on board with Wexner land swap…
City looking for ways to encourage short-term condo rentals
About 40 percent of the city’s short-term bed base is made up of condominiums. However, otherwise eligible properties are not being rented out in part because city rules treat lodging differently than residential condominiums. So the city is considering code amendments designed to encourage redevelopment and rental of Aspen’s condominium stock.
Officials are looking at The Gant as an example where a hot-bed base is maintained while the owners of the units use them in the manner that bests suits their lifestyle.
Gap building developer to fill basement with dirt to avoid housing mitigation
The developer of the Gap property has come up with a novel way to avoid affordable housing mitigation — by filling the existing basement with enough dirt to make it unusable.
Eliminating the basement will allow real estate investor Mark Hunt to build a new structure in the adjacent parking lot without adding to the net leasable square footage at the site. No net increase in leasable space means no need to build affordable housing. Hunt has said he plans to put as many as six retail storefronts and a second story restaurant at the redeveloped site.
City wants more building with replacement for the Bidwell Building
City planning staff is recommending elimination of the second story setbacks — 23 feet from Cooper Avenue and 20 feet from Galena Street — in the building envisioned to replace the Bidwell Building. They would prefer a design that fits Aspen’s historic pattern with build out of the first and second floors to the lot line, forming a strong edge along the street. The staff-preferred design would result in a larger building.
The existing two-story building sold late last month for $22 million. The new building envisioned by 434 East Cooper Avenue LLC would be two stories with a basement. The first floor would extend to the lot line, eliminating the sunken patio that currently exists. It does not include residential condos.
Council OKs Cooper Avenue Mall structure
Aspen City Council accepted the Historic Preservation Commission's approval of a plan to replace a one-story building in the Cooper Avenue pedestrian mall with a three-story structure. The applicant plans to build a mixed-use development with a residential unit on the second and third floors and commercial uses in the first floor and the basement. The property is located next to the Red Onion.
Deliberations on downtown zoning continuing in 2013
Aspen City Council has been discussing zoning that would permit third stories on buildings for lodging or commercial use, but bar future development of free-market condos. One proposal calls for a ban of third stories on the south side of streets, which block sunlight and worsen icy conditions for pedestrians and motorists. City staff expressed concern that the idea would open the city up to a legal challenge. The discussion will resume on Jan. 14.
Ownership changes continue in real estate industry
There were two significant developments in the real estate industry last month, with the sale of the second largest firm in the valley and the merger of two boutique firms.
Locally owned Ajax Holdings announced its plans to acquire Coldwell Banker Mason Morse Real Estate and its building at 514 E. Hyman Ave. in a deal that is expected to close early this year. Also, Stirling Homes and Peak Properties are merging to create Stirling Peak Properties.
Potential sister city shares 10th Mountain Division roots
Abetone, a ski town of 700 people in the Apennine Mountains of Italy, and Aspen are discussing the possibility of a sister city relationship. The towns share a historical bond through the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army, which helped liberate the Italian ski area from German occupiers at the end of WWII. Some of those same soldiers helped transform Aspen into a ski resort after the war.
Aspen has sister cities relationships with resort communities in France, Switzerland, Japan, Argentina and New Zealand.
Affordable housing sales flat in 2012
Affordable housing sales are on pace to be even with 2011. Through mid-December, the housing authority had administered 57 sales for a total of $11.2 million. In 2011, 60 units sold for a total of $13 million. Developer Peter Fornell’s new complex, Ajax Apartments at 301 W. Hyman Ave., accounted for a large portion of sales with eight units selling for $989,000.
Aspen Ranger District property sale delayed
The U.S. Forest Service’s plan to sell five lots on an acre of its Aspen Ranger District property in the West End has been pushed back to at least spring-break time and possibly next summer. Officials had hoped to list the property for the Christmas season, but the agency’s internal approval process has not been completed. Proceeds will be used to cover the cost of rebuilding the administrative headquarters, ranger housing and a visitor center.
Energy upgrade process streamlined for affordable units that are about to be listed
The city of Aspen has created a pilot program to streamline energy-upgrades of affordable housing units that are about to go on the market. Under the voluntary program, the cost of the energy upgrades will be added to the price of the unit. The NrgEx Energy Permit Express program provides sellers with a checklist of energy-upgrade work that requires a permit, cuts the permit fee to $25 and offers same day processing.
Lawn care policy to focus on healthy alternatives
The city of Aspen will focus over the coming year on raising awareness about the dangers of chemicals pesticides and herbicides on human and environmental health. The program will encourage less toxic alternatives for lawn and tree care, as well. Information about healthy lawn maintenance practices will be posted on the city’s website.
Eyes on the prize: City Council members mull run for mayor
All four eligible city council members— Derek Johnson, Steve Skadron, Adam Frisch and Torre — say they may a run for mayor in 2013. Mayor Mick Ireland is required to step down because of term limits. No one else has publicly expressed interest so far.
Snowmass Village —
Pennsylvania developer to purchase Snowmass Club
The Aspen Skiing Co. is expected to close on the sale of the Snowmass Club with Toll Golf, a division of a Pennsylvania-based luxury home builder, in mid-January. The Snowmass Club incorporates a 19,000-square-foot athletic facility, including outdoor pools, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, 13 tennis courts, a pro shop and a spa, as well as the Sage Restaurant and Bar. The Jim Engh-designed golf course is a traditional Irish links. The sale includes the clubhouse and the Black Saddle Bar & Grille.
Viceroy prices down considerably from pre-recession highs
Recent sales activity of condominiums at the Viceroy Snowmass indicates prices at the luxury resort are down more than 60 percent from their 2008 peak. A number of residences are now under contract for approximately $700 per square foot. In 2008, Viceroy residences were going under contract for prices ranging between $1,700 and $2,000 per square foot. Those earlier contracts were vacated with the subsequent bankruptcy of the Base Village project, however.
2011-12 a banner year for Snowmass Ski Area — financially
Despite a lackluster snow year and a dip in skier visits last winter, the $1,196,513 in fees paid to the U.S. Forest Service signals that the Aspen Skiing Co. had one of its best financial years at Snowmass Ski Area in the 2011-12 season. The fee paid to the Forest Service for using public lands is based gross revenues.
Company Senior Vice President David Perry attributed the success to tourists spending more money on the mountain, particularly for ski school lessons and on-mountain restaurants. Lift ticket prices also increased last year.
Aspen Mountain and Buttermilk also had revenue increases last season, based on the fees paid to the Forest Service. Revenues at Aspen Highlands dropped.
Mix of new and relocated businesses fill Snowmass Mall and Base Village
New businesses on the Snowmass Mall this year include Local Rebels, high-end fashion for women; NJ Boutique, women’s clothing and accessories made in the USA; and Sharpshooters, where photos taken by the pros on the ski hill are on sale.
Three businesses opened in the Westin Hotel late last year — Patagonia and North Face branded stores and a new Aspen Sports tune shop.
At the Westin and Wildwood hotels, there are six new places to drink and eat. Snowmass Kitchen at the Westin offers breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The Vue, in the Westin lobby lounge, is designed for après ski and casual dining. The Ranger Station, a new slope-side bar and eatery, is in the lower level of the Westin. The Bar at Wildwood is a new beer hall, in collaboration with Colorado’s New Belgium Brewery. Upstairs at the Wildwood is the Canteen, offering breakfast. A Starbucks is expected to open later this winter.
In Base Village, Snowmass Bakery is open for breakfast and lunch on the ground floor of the Red Barn building. Slice Red Barn Pizzeria offers artisan pizza and Italian fare and is located on the second floor.
Town denies parking request from Roaring Fork Mountain Club
Town Council was unanimous in its opposition to a request from the Roaring Fork Mountain Club to lease town-owned parking passes in the upper numbered lots. The original application requested 30 permits in the upper numbered lots, for its guest vehicles and four spaces in Lot 13 for valet parking.
Council members considered a number of amendments to the application to help make it work for the Club, but ultimately decided against leasing spaces that are available to the public for private use.
Westin & Wildwood to host Après Ski Cocktail Classic
The 2013 Après Ski Cocktail Classic will be headquartered at the new Westin & Wildwood Snowmass Resorts March 14-17. Après-ski culture will be highlighted with hot toddies, mountain-top parties, seminars and fireside chats in the Grand Tasting Village. The nation’s top brand ambassadors and spirit aficionados will be on hand, pouring uncommon spirits, champagnes and cocktails.
Ticket prices, snowfall higher than last season
The Aspen Skiing Co. raised prices for walk-up lift tickets to $114, the company’s highest price ever but still slightly below Vail and Beaver Creek.
Snowfall at Snowmass this December, at nearly 60 inches, was more than 130 percent of average. In December 2011, by contrast, only 19 inches graced the slopes of the ski area.
Basalt continuing care facility gets $2 million boost
The Aspen Valley Foundation, formerly the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation, received an anonymous $2 million gift, which is going toward the development of a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Basalt. The foundation also received a $1.5 million endowment to create a geriatric medicine program in the valley and announced the creation of a valley autism assistance fund to support families in crisis.
Food and building material sales lead Basalt economy
Basalt town government reaped the benefits of Whole Foods grocery for the third straight month in October. Sales tax revenues from retail food stores came in at $128,037 in October, up from $93,685 last year. Other Basalt businesses faced a mixed bag, however.
Sales rose 11.7 percent at restaurants with bars, but fell 12 percent at restaurants without bars. Building material sales were up 40.5 percent. General retailers saw sales fall 24 percent compared to a year ago. Sporting goods sales were up 10 percent.
Pitkin County —
County Commissioners ready to support Wexner-BLM deal
A negotiated agreement between Pitkin County and the Wexner family is anticipated to garner county commissioner support for a land swap the couple has been trying to consummate for years.
If the deal is eventually approved by the Bureau of Land Management, the Wexners will gain ownership of more than 1,200 acres of federal lands adjacent to their ranch at the base of Mount Sopris.
Pitkin County government has opposed the deal, in part because it would result in a reduction of public lands in the county. Most of the 669 acres that the Wexners want to exchange with the federal government is located in Garfield County.
But the county is moving toward support for the deal after the Wexners agreed to:
• Place a conservation easement on 370 acres identified as important winter habitat for elk and bighorn sheep;
• Relinquish development rights for 10 single-family homes;
• Move a planned indoor riding arena so it is less visible from the Crystal River Valley;
• Provide $700,000 for property acquisition and construction of a trail along part of Prince Creek Road
Ruedi water sale nearly complete
The Colorado River District has been coordinating a water purchase agreement with 18 towns, companies and other entities for the remaining unclaimed water in Ruedi Reservoir. The purchasers, which include Aspen, Snowmass and Carbondale, will collectively gain control of 19,585 acre-feet of water annually, about 19 percent of the Ruedi’s capacity.
The water sale is part of a two-pronged strategy to keep the water on the Western Slope and pay off approximately $34 million in debt on the dam.
The parties and the amount of water they are contracting to purchase each year are: Colorado River District, 2,666 acre-feet; Ute Water Conservancy District, 8,885 acre-feet; Wildcat Ranch Homeowners' Association, 50 acre-feet; the Mid-Valley Metro District, 100 acre-feet; Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District, 62 acre-feet; Owl Creek Ranch Homeowners' Association, 15 acre-feet; town of Palisade, 200 acre-feet; Encana Oil, 3,998 acre-feet; Snowmass Water and Sanitation, 500 acre-feet; town of DeBeque, 100 acre-feet; Basalt Water Conservancy District, 300 acre-feet; Garfield County, 889 acre-feet; town of Carbondale, 250 acre-feet; Elk Meadows Properties LLC, 70 acre-feet; city of Aspen, 400 acre-feet; Battlement Mesa Metro District, 500 acre-feet; Petroleum Development Corp., 500 acre-feet; and W/J Metro District, 100 acre-feet.
County taking stock of fishing easements
A land officer with Pitkin County Open Space and Trails is digging through decades old development approvals and making field visits in an effort to document every county-owned easement on the Roaring Fork River. In addition to acquisitions through open space purchases, there are numerous fishing and access easements that have been secured over the last four decades through development approvals, often only to be platted and then forgotten.
Once work is completed on the Roaring Fork, the county will begin a survey of Snowmass and Capitol Creeks.
Judge rules for resort operators in water rights dispute
A long-running dispute over water rights at ski areas operating on public land was resolved — at least temporarily — with Federal District Court Judge William Martinez ruling that the U.S. Forest Service violated its own regulations and other federal laws when it adopted a new water rights clause in ski area permits that assigns water rights to the federal government without compensation. The Aspen Skiing Co. was a party in the suit.
Specifically, Martinez said the Forest Service both failed to implement a public review process and adequately evaluate economic costs of the policy, both of which are required under federal regulations.
At issue is water that originates on public national forest lands and has been developed by ski resorts for snowmaking and other uses. Agency officials said the water rights clause is meant to ensure that the water rights stay with the ski areas long term.
County, environmental groups look to preserve Crystal River
Four organizations — Pitkin County, Roaring Fork Conservancy, Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association and American Rivers — are examining an opportunity to protect at least 39 miles of the Crystal River under the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
The act allows local and regional communities to develop federally-backed management plans designed to preserve and protect free-flowing rivers such as the Crystal. Designation under the act, which requires an act of Congress, would end plans for a reservoir between Marble and Redstone.
The West Divide Water Conservancy District and the Colorado River District are fighting to retain conditional water rights that could allow for a dam across the Crystal and a 4,000-acre-foot reservoir at the site.
County holds off on planning for airport
Just days after adopting a new, somewhat controversial master plan for Pitkin County Airport, the County Commissioners rejected a request from airport staff to hire a consultant to work on design guidelines and a transit analysis. The commissioners said they would like to slow the process down in order to get a better understanding of the work involved.
Housing guidelines changed to suit retirees
Retirees who own affordable housing may soon be able to leave the valley and rent their homes for up to six months out of the year. The housing board approved changes to guidelines that currently require all homeowners, including retirees, to live in their units for at least nine months annually and bars them from renting their property.
Hunter Creek plan set for public, environmental review
The Hunter Creek-Smuggler Mountain Cooperative Plan, a habitat and recreation management plan on more than 4,000 acres of national forest near Aspen is set to go through the environmental review process.
With 18 months of cooperative planning and input from the public and stakeholder groups, the plan's authors hope most potential objections have already been addressed. The federal review process typically garners thousands of comments and can often be contentious.
Wilderness Workshop has raised issue with forest management practices in the plan and the potential construction of a trail on the south side of Smuggler Mountain, which is home to several bear dens and important winter elk habitat.
- Red Mountain, Aspen
- Five bedrooms/six baths
- $1,781 per square foot
- Asking price $17,500,000
- 86% of asking price
- SOLD BY GARY FELDMAN
- West Aspen
- Three bedrooms/three baths
- $1,202 per square foot
- Asking price $2,900,000
- 83% of asking price
- McLain Flats, Aspen
- Building Site
- Asking price $3,900,000
- 86% of asking price