July 2013

Aspen Sale June 28, 2013

Aspen Sale June 28, 2013

982 Cemetery Lane

A & W Condominiums, Unit 102


Three bedrooms/three baths

2,273 sf

Sold price per square foot $549

Asking price $1,399.000

89% of asking price

Photo by Gary Feldman

Posted by GaryFeldman on July 03, 2013 in

Aspen Sale June 28, 2013

Aspen Sale June 28, 2013

982 Cemetery Lane

A & W Condominiums, Unit 102


Three bedrooms/three baths

2,273 sf

Sold price per square foot $549

Asking price $1,399.000

89% of asking price

Photo by Gary Feldman

Posted by GaryFeldman on July 03, 2013 in

Aspen Sale July 2, 2013

Aspen Sale July 2, 2013

883 Moore Drive

Five Trees Building Site


45,738 sf

Asking price $1,995,000

90% of asking price

Photo by Gary Feldman

Posted by GaryFeldman on July 03, 2013 in

Aspen Board of Realtors Observer - July, 2013

Aspen Board of Realtors Observer - July, 2013

ABOR Observer

July 2013


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— City looks for ways to support lodging, refurbish condominium base

Snowmass Village – Viceroy phase 2 enters land use process

                Basalt – Town challenges plans for El Jebel intersection

                Pitkin County – County may be forced to open records on construction complaint


Aspen —

City report identifies challenges to new lodging

A report on lodging demand and lodging economics entitled identifies several major challenges facing Aspen’s lodging sector, in terms of adding new lodging and refurbishing the aging condominium supply. It concludes:

•  Aspen’s development process, from entitlements through building permit and Certificate of Occupancy is unpredictable and puts off potential developers;

• Aspen may need to accept residential development in conjunction with any new lodge product proposed to help offset costs;

•  Aspen’s condominium base is aging and needs to be upgraded, but simply allowing renovations may lead to a loss of those units from the rental pool.

• Current financial markets make any new hotel product difficult to finance and build, and land costs in Aspen can make any project even less economically feasible.

• The community may need to accept greater height and density, lower mitigation requirements if it wants new lodging built.


The report, Aspen’s Lodging Sector: Lodging Demand & Lodging Economics, can be found at: http://www.aspenpitkin.com/Departments/Community-Development/Planning-and-Zoning/Long-Range-Planning/


Council exempts common-area businesses from housing fee

City Council amended the land use code so locally-owned businesses that sell locally-produced goods can utilize existing common areas such as hallways and entryways for commercial purposes.
The amendment, proposed by outgoing Mayor Mick Ireland, exempts that specific class of business from the housing fees assessed most businesses in town.


The issue came up after photographer Ross Kribbs challenged the rules that would require him to pay nearly $100,000 to cover the city’s housing mitigation fee. Without relief from the rule, he said he would shudder his Nugget Gallery, which operates in a building hallway on the Hyman Avenue Mall and has one part-time employee.


City agrees to support stream flows in Roaring Fork

The city of Aspen agreed to reduce the amount of water it diverts into the Wheeler Ditch whenever flows in the Roaring Fork River fall below 32 cubic feet per second. The city will eliminate up to 8 cubic feet per second by leasing less water to third parties, reducing outdoor water use, and redirecting other water supplies.


Boomerang affordable housing developer prevails over neighbors in court

A district court judge has ruled against opponents of a proposed affordable housing project on the fsite of the Boomerang Lodge, near the base of Shadow Mountain.


Judge Gail Nichols rejected allegations by Daniel Verner, Staspen LLP and the Christiana Aspen Condominium Association that Aspen City Council abused its discretion and was arbitrary and capricious in approving a large affordable housing project at the current site of the Boomerang Lodge, which sits shuttered at the base of Shadow Mountain.


Developers initially planned to build a condominium hotel, but financing fell apart before construction could begin. In 2010, City Council approved an affordable housing complex that will instead take advantage of incentives for private developers under the affordable housing credit certificate program.


Developer to stage construction from parking spots on Hunter

Council members Ann Mullins and Adam Frisch agreed to allow Aspen Core Ventures to close parking on a half block in the downtown core for up to two years. The space will be used to stage construction of a three-story, multi-use building at the corner of Hyman Avenue and Hunter Street. As the project progresses, parking will be added on Hyman and reopen on Hunter, reducing the impact.


Mayor Steve Skadron was opposed to such a significant exception to the city’s construction planning rules, which limit parking closures to off season and one summer season.

City Manager Steve Barwick suggested the council consider changing its policy of approving downtown developments that build out to their lot lines, to prevent impacts on public sidewalks and streets in the future.


Major projects underway or planned throughout the core of Aspen

Several high-visibility projects under way in downtown Aspen are creating a level of construction activity unseen since 2007. They include the Aspen Art Museum at Hyman Avenue and Spring Street; redevelopment of former Gap building across the street from City Hall; Chabad Aspen Jewish Center at Fourth and Main; and the Aspen Community Church remodel on Bleeker. Work will soon begin on a three-story building in the parking lot at Hunter Street and Hyman Avenue, as well. Several other projects are working through the approval process and may begin construction before the end of the year.


Aspen to loosen rules for cyclists at stop signs

Aspen City Council agreed to an ordinance that allows bicyclists to use stop signs in the same manner that motorists use a yield sign. The new rule — heralded as a safety measure and a possible incentive for more people to use bikes — won’t become official until later this summer. A 2008 study showed that travel for cyclists and motorists in Boise, Idaho has become safer as a result of such a change.


Tour de France teams to compete in Aspen

The field in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge will feature teams from eight different countries, including the top three teams from the 2012 Tour de France. The race begins August 19 with an Aspen/Snowmass circuit race.


City to look at recreational marijuana regulations

Aspen, Snowmass Village, Basalt and Carbondale all have until Oct. 1 to adopt zoning and other rules to regulate marijuana sales in their towns.


The state legislature set the minimum age for purchasing marijuana at 21. Colorado residents will be able to buy up to an ounce of pot, while out-of-state residents will be limited to a quarter-ounce per purchase. Products must be sold in child-resistant packages.


Ownership of recreational marijuana outlets is limited to Colorado residents. Those who already own medical marijuana dispensaries have a six-month head start in the recreational business — until June 2014, after which any resident can apply for state and local licensing.


Fireworks canceled in Aspen, still on in Basalt and Glenwood Springs

Decreasing moisture-content levels in area forests prompted Aspen officials to cancel Fourth of July fireworks for the second straight year, and the Bureau of Land Management to enact fire restrictions. Aspen firefighters have taken the added step of patrolling the district, looking for smoke and advising homeowners on efforts they can take to protect their residences.

Glenwood Springs is planning a fireworks display at Two Rivers Park, and the Roaring Fork Club in Basalt still plans to fireworks over its golf course.


Geothermal test hole dig winds down

A test well across the road from Heron Park that will be used to examine geothermal energy potential is expected to be completed by July 3. The city hopes it will find water deep underground that is hot enough to potentially support a geothermal energy system. After drillers reach 1,500 feet, they will install metal casing in the hole. Tests will begin later this summer on temperatures and volumes of water at the bottom of the whole.


Changes coming to intersection at base of gondola

City Council authorized $413,000 in spending to improve the intersection immediately below the gondola on Aspen Mountain. It will feature a raised sidewalk and bulb-out curb extensions.  The Aspen Skiing Co. agreed to extend the hot water system from beneath the gondola plaza to provide snowmelt in the new crosswalks. 


Little Cloud rental dispute settled

London fashionista Mounissa Chodieva and her sister Nafissa settled a legal dispute with Texan Tom Dundon and Aspen Signature Properties over a rental agreement gone awry at Dundon’s 9,331-square-foot house on Little Cloud Lane. The sisters had arranged to rent the home for 16 days over Christmas/New Years 2011-12 at nearly $19,000 a night. But when Dundon’s BDDC Trust bought the home in November 2011, the rental fell through. Terms of the settlement are not available, but according to published reports, approximately $40,000 in deposits and escrow, to cover city taxes, was not returned.


April snows don’t ring at cash register

Increased snow fall at the end of ski season did not reflect with increased sales locally, with retail sales falling in Aspen approximately 1 percent compared to April 2012. Year-to-date, retail sales are up 5 percent over 2012. April lodging tax collections were down 24 percent; for the year however, they are up 7 percent.


Summer flight schedule in full swing

United Airlines began its summer flight schedule last month with added service between Aspen and Denver, as well as daily nonstop flights from Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago. American Airlines began its daily summer service with nonstop flights from both Los Angeles and Dallas/Ft. Worth.


Community outrage over surgeon’s firing puts pressure on hospital

The blow up over the firing of a surgeon at Aspen Valley Hospital, Dr. John Schultz, has many calling for an end to the contract that gives the other surgeon at the hospital, Dr. Bill Rodman, final say over surgery services. More than 100 people crammed into a recent meeting at the hospital to express displeasure with Rodman and the dismissal of Schultz.

Rodman has had monopoly control of surgical services at AVH since 1993. Hospital administrators say such exclusive provider contracts are common at hospitals. Former CEO David Ressler said however that the hospital had been moving toward an employee-based model for both surgeons before the firing, which will, if adopted, end Rodman’s exclusive provider status. In the meantime, the hospital board declined to end its contract with Rodman.


Coldwell Banker nonprofit tent set for fourth season at Saturday Market

Real estate firm Coldwell Banker Mason Morse continued its annual support for nonprofit organizations by featuring a different one each week at its Aspen Saturday Market tent. The nonprofits scheduled to be featured include: Independence Pass Foundation, Aspen Historical Society, Thompson Divide Coalition, Aspen High School Booster Club, Shining Stars Foundation, Theater Aspen, Aspen High School Hockey, Susan G. Komen-Aspen, the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Wildwood School, the Aspen Education Foundation, Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers, Mountain Rescue Aspen and the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club.


Environment forum canceled

The Aspen Institute and National Geographic magazine canceled the Aspen Environment Forum this year, ending a five year run. An institute spokesman said it had become a substantial challenge to generate the sponsorship necessary to support the forum. The Aspen Security Forum is still on this year for July 17-20, and Aspen Ideas Festal ran from June 26-July 2.



Snowmass Village —

Snowmass Village scrambling to fill key vacancies

Town officials expressed concern last month with the fact that the developer of Base Village has entered the approval process to restart construction at a time when three key positions at town hall are vacant.


Town Manager Russ Forrest leaves July 31 to take a job in Gunnison County, public works director Hunt Walker retires today, and the town is trying to find a new Snowmass Tourism director.

No decision has been made on the hiring process for a permanent replacement for Forrest. But the town’s road superintendent, John Baker, has been named  interim public works director as officials continue to review applications for the job. And the town has narrowed the search for a new tourism director to two candidates.


Mayor Bill Boineau said he feels Snowmass Village has enough qualified staff to weather the rash of vacancies.


Related seeks changes before building second Viceroy tower

Snowmass Acquisition Co. LLC, an affiliate of Base Village owner Related Colorado, is seeking the town approval for changes to the final plans for the Viceroy Snowmass condominium hotel before beginning work on the second phase later this year.


Originally approved with 72 residences, Snowmass Acquisition Co. wants to cut that to 67, reduce the number of studio units from 25 to 15 and increase the number of two-bedroom units from 24 to 37. The developer also wants to build a larger fitness center, and change the affordable-housing component from ownership to rental. Once built, the building will be five stories and about 86,000 square feet.


Related Colorado President Dwayne Romero said work on the infrastructure could begin within a few months after the review process is completed. The project went before the planning commission last month. He also said the firm is working on additional master plan amendments that they will present to the community later this year.


Snowmass Center renovations may add space for grocery

Related Colorado is remodeling the exterior of the Snowmass Center, with work on the siding, repairs to the trim, as well as new awnings and signs. A new coat of paint will complement the color scheme of Town Hall and other buildings in that area of Snowmass Village. Related Colorado is also looking at ways to add floor area to the grocery and liquor stores.


Christo to give public presentation at Anderson Ranch

Christo, the famed and controversial conceptual artist, will visit Anderson Ranch Arts Center in August and give a free presentation on Aug. 23. The Bulgarian artist is known for large-scale works aimed at transforming both man-made and natural environments.
Christo’s ongoing project is “Over the River,” a planned installation on the Arkansas River that has been in the works since 1992. It would place nearly 6 miles of translucent silver fabric panels above the water between Salida and Canon City. It has been cleared by the Bureau of Land Management but is still in limbo due to lawsuits.

disagree on every major issue addressed by the legislature this year, including gun control and education funding.



Basalt —

Basalt council challenges rebuild plans for Highway 82-El Jebel intersection

Some members of the Basalt Town Council questioned whether a multi-million dollar rebuild of the Highway 82 intersection in El Jebel is necessary. And the entire council sent a strong message to Eagle County not to skimp on pedestrian safety.


Eagle County sought comments from Basalt on plans for the south-side of the intersection, where it wants to move a frontage road and intersection of Valley Road and East Valley Road farther back from the highway to relieve congestion.


The Colorado Department of Transportation has set design parameters based on a projected 2 to 3 percent annual growth in the area. Other factors include RFTA’s a new park and ride lot, and a proposal for an indoor recreation center. The frontage road also provides access to the Movieland and City Market commercial complex, and the Eagle County government building.


If Eagle County proceeds with the reconstruction of the intersection, Basalt Town Council members want a safer way for pedestrians to cross East Valley Road. The current design calls for a standard pedestrian crossing. Councilman Glenn Rappaport said the design focuses too much on the future flow of traffic and not enough on keeping pedestrians safe.


Kittle takes over Freedman’s seat on town council

Basalt Town Council selected Mark Kittle to fill the seat recently vacated by Anne Freedman. Kittle is a native of Basalt who works as the building inspector in Snowmass Village. He previously served on the council from 2004-08. His term expires in April 2014.


RMI plans über-green building in downtown Basalt

The Rocky Mountain Institute says it will submit designs later this year for a 15,000-square-foot office and conference space that will be a national showcase for energy efficiency. The building will include a convening space for small events that will draw influential people from around the world. It will be located on the current site of Mexican restaurant Taqueria el Nopal in Basalt.


Sales activity still strong, but slower

The recent sales tax surge that has been filling the town of Basalt’s coffers slowed in April, despite another strong month for grocery stores. Overall sales tax revenues for the month were up 9.5 percent, the first month this year that growth was below 10 percent.  Grocery store sales were up 30 percent, and retail liquor stores reported sales up 22.5 percent. Every other category was down.



Pitkin County —

Commercial potato growing returns to upper valley to support distillery

Woody Creek Distillers owners Pat and Mary Scanlan have planted potatoes on 30 acres on their ranch in Little Woody Creek and the adjacent Chaparral Ranch, bringing potato farming to a commercial scale in the upper valley not seen in more than five decades. The roughly 600,000 pounds expected in the fall will be distilled into vodka in Basalt.


Potato production were important to the local economy in the first half of the 20th Century, during the Quiet Years. Farmers in the upper Roaring Fork Valley stopped producing potatoes on a commercial scale in the 1960s, after the Rio Grande Railroad ended service to Aspen.


County, homeowner spar over records in construction complaint

Elesabeth Shook wants to see who filed a complaint about construction work last summer on her property on Pitkin Green, and is suing Pitkin County under the Colorado Open Records Act for access to relevant records.


After the complaint was filed, the county found significant work under way that did not have the required permit. Once Shook received her permit, work resumed and the investigation was closed.


The county contends that releasing the documents could lead to acrimony and retaliation in the neighborhood. The county says that issue alone allows it to withhold documents under the open records act. The county attorney also argued that the records are part of an investigation and not subject to release.

District Court Judge Gail Nichols said that while the county’s arguments makes sense, the law may be on Shook’s side. She has yet to issue a final order.


County poised to eliminate threat of dams in Crystal River

Pitkin County has reached a settlement with the West Divide Water Conservancy District and the Colorado River District to extinguish conditional water rights created in the 1950s that could have resulted in dams being built across the Crystal River near the base of McClure Pass and on a tributary of Thompson Creek.

Pitkin County in return agreed to set aside its opposition to potential new dams and reservoirs on Mamm and Divide creeks in Garfield County between New Castle and Parachute. The settlement must be approved by the Pitkin County commissioners and the boards of the two water districts to go into effect.


Recreation committee recommends cyclist fee for Maroon Creek Road

The Colorado Recreation Resource Advisory Committee, an advisory board to the Regional Forester that is comprised of representatives from some recreational user groups, recommended charging cyclists who ride on Maroon Creek Road up to Maroon Lake. They said that it’s only fair, given that automobiles are charged to make the trip.


Committee members representing motorized outfitters also suggested creating fees for cross-country skiers on Vail Pass and expressed frustration that mountain bikers cause as much trail damage as motorized users but face much less regulation.


White River Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams says there are no plans to institute a fee in the works currently. When the Forest Service proposed a fee for cyclists using Maroon Creek Road in the 1990s, it was successfully opposed by the community.


BLM begins environmental review of 82 gas leases

The Bureau of Land Management admitted it failed to follow the National Environmental Protection Act on at least 82 natural gas leases it sold on federal lands in this region over the last decade. After reviewing the leases — including all those in the Thompson Divide area near Carbondale — the agency will decide whether to amend, cancel or allow them to stand. Gas industry officials worry that public pressure to protect the Thompson Divide may have triggered a regulatory domino effect on public lands — with the potential for what one industry spokesman called “Rockies-wide impacts.”


Environmentally-disruptive driveway concerns all involved

A driveway proposed to access 62 acres on a plateau above Woody Creek remains a source of frustration the developer, the neighbors and the County Commissioners, who put off approval in hopes of finding an alternative.


The driveway will require retaining walls as it cuts across a steep hillside. County staff is recommending approval because the Stranahan family, which owns the property, has done its best to limit impacts. The family previously attempted to negotiate access through neighboring properties, or to sell the property to the county Open Space and Trails program.


Approval is still expected. An earlier attempt by the county to deny the drive that was reversed after became apparent that the county could not under federal law deny access to private property.


County sees no problems with Windstar sale

Despite vocal outcry over the sale of the Windstar property to a private company, the county attorney says the $8.5 million sale did not violate conditions of the conservation easement.


The latest critic to speak publicly against the deal is Windstar Foundation board member and John Denver’ brother, Ron Deutschendorf Sr. He is particularly critical of claims that the sale is something his brother would have endorsed. Others to level criticism include longtime Windstar volunteers, and neighbors who worry about the loss of parking for people wanting to visit the land.


Five Valley Farm LLC bought the 957-acre property in Old Snowmass for  April, with a conservation easement that prohibits development on 927 acres. The 30 acres that are open for development house offices and housing for Rocky Mountain Institute.


Post-recession, construction jobs remain scarce

The quarterly jobs report released by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment indicates Pitkin County has about 3,800 fewer jobs now than it did before the recession began in 2008, a drop of 21 percent, with the construction industry continuing to be hit particularly hard. There were 187 construction firms based in Pitkin County employing approximately 685 workers in the fourth quarter of 2012, down sharply from the 250 firms employing 1,328 in the fourth quarter of 2007. Construction employment in the three county region — Pitkin, Garfield and Eagle — fell from 11,512 in 2007 to 6,230 at the end of last year.


Rebuilt Aspen Music School campus opens as scheduled

Aspen Music School’s Bucksbaum Campus is again alive with the sounds of music, after nine months of clamoring jackhammers and drills. Rehearsals on campus began at the end of June. 

The first phase of construction was completed in May, after an ambitious wintertime construction schedule. Sixty percent of the renovation is complete, and the remainder will be finished intermittently into 2016. Aspen Country Day School will use the campus beginning this fall.

The privately-funded $60 million project has been in development for nearly seven years and was approved by the Pitkin County commissioners in 2008. It replaced dilapidated buildings and adds new spaces for instruction and private music rehearsal.


Vail councilwoman, Orchard mayor announce for state Senate

State Sen. Gail Schwartz introduced Vail Councilwoman Kerry Donovan to Pitkin County Democrats as a candidate to fill the state senate seat that she, Schwartz, will leave in 2014.


Donovan, a 34-year-old Democrat, emphasized her moderate outlook as key for representing the seven-county district that stretches from Vail to Aspen to Gunnison to Delta. She may end up facing off with Don Suppes, the Republican mayor of Orchard City who makes no bones about his strong conservative viewpoints.


Golden Horn, Thunderbowl get new lifts to support ski and snowboard racers

The Aspen Skiing Co. is planning a new lift on the Golden Horn at Aspen Highlands. The platter- lift, which is being paid for by the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, will allow racers to make laps while running gates. It will be open to the public. Another lift is planned on private land next to the freestyle training area in the lower portion of Thunderbowl. It will not be open to the public and will run only on an as-needed basis.


Jigsaw Ranch sells for $41 million

The Jigsaw Ranch on the back side of Aspen Mountain sold in a two-part deal for $41 million. The 44-acre upper portion sold for $27 million and includes a 12,247-square-foot residence on Midnight Mine Road and a one-bedroom gatehouse.  The 23-acre lower portion sold for $14 million. It includes a 5,760-square-foot home, guest house and log cabin.


It is one of the highest prices obtained for a single property in Pitkin County history, along with Mandalay Ranch in Owl Creek that sold for $46 million in 2004, and Hala Ranch in Starwood which sold for $49 million last year.


Task force to set design and construction rules at airport

A citizen’s task force will develop design and construction guidelines Pitkin County Airport that dictate architecture, exterior lighting and landscaping, construction management and project-review procedures for a new terminal building and other significant work planned for both sides of the runway. Task force members include representatives from surrounding neighborhoods, airport stakeholders and county officials.


Neiley appointed to 9th Judicial bench

Attorney John Neiley has been appointed as the new judge for the 9th Judicial District, which serves Garfield, Pitkin and Rio Blanco counties. He is a partner at the law firm Neiley & Alder and works primarily on real estate transactions and land use. He has also represented clients in medical malpractice cases, and worked for the Federal Trade Commission where he enforced consumer protection and antitrust laws.


Airport Business Center infrastructure work under way

Last year, 300 Road, which runs parallel to Baltic Avenue in the Airport Business Center, was rated as the worst in Pitkin County. This summer and fall, residents, customers and business owners will face disruptions as county crews repair that road and make upgrades to pedestrian and storm water systems.

Posted by GaryFeldman on July 01, 2013 in