Today marks the third day of sunshine this week, although the last two days have been grey and snowy. Spring has finally arrived in Aspen and it is about time. Locals are running around in flip flops and short sleeves as if it were 80 degrees outside. This is such a fun time of year in Aspen. There is so much anticipation in the air for the long, sunny days of summer. As the popular adage goes "we come here for the winter, but stay for the summer."
Fans of the Cirque area on Snowmass have reason for celebration. A new lift is scheduled to replace the old Sheer Bliss lift, originally built in the 70s. What once was a 16 minute chair ride will now be reduced to approximately 9 minutes. The new lift can carry over 2000 passengers per hour and will carry skiers higher up the mountain than the present lift, which will allow much easier access the the Cirque poma.
An uncontrollable fire whipped through a large area down valley from Basalt yesterday, charring over 300 acres and damaging at least 4 structures. Emergency crews were notified shortly after 12:00 yesterday afternoon that a controlled burn had spread to nearby brush by wind gusts of over 50 miles per hour. The wind carried the flames over the Roaring Fork River and eventually over Highway 82 and up towards the Missouri Heights neighborhood.
Aspen City Council members met last night to discuss plans for a proposed redevelopment of the 40 year old Bidwell building situated on what is considered Aspen's most prominent corner. The building currently houses Kemo Sabe and is across the street from Paradise Bakery.
Aspen & Snowmass ski areas closed yesterday, and as we say goodbye to skiing each spring, we have the exciting reminder that summer is not far away. The "shoulder season" brings a hush over Aspen and most fortunate locals take this time to vacation to the beach and rest after enjoying another winter in Aspen. This is one of my favorite times of the year...parking is abundant and restaurants aren't busy. There is an exciting energy among the locals who are all gearing up for another beautiful Aspen summer.
We are quickly approaching the close of a truly epic ski season in Aspen. The 2007/2008 season will go down in record books as being one of the snowiest in history, and just this week mountain managers reported another 32 inches of new snow on Aspen Mountain.
As the majority of the country tries to wade through the recent downturn in real estate sales, areas in the Roaring Fork Valley are trending in the opposite direction. The average home price in the Basalt area went from $1.34 million last year to $3.23 million in 2008. A new 100 unit development in El Jebel near Basalt called Shadowrock has helped boost area sales. With a price per square foot ranging from $394-$524 for a brand new townhouse, these units are considered by many to be a great value.
Real Estate transactions in Pitkin County generated $445.82 million during January and February of 2007. This year, sales fell to $258.7 million for the same period based on recorded transactions with Pitkin County clerk's office. The number of transactions dropped from 210 last year to 160 this year for a total drop of 23 percent.
Despite the downturn, there is a major difference between what is happening here and in most places around the country. The mortgage crisis has not struck resort markets with a high percentage of luxury and second homes.