Real Estate in the News – April 2020

Aspen

City of Aspen Sales Tax Forecasted to Lose 34%
The city of Aspen is forecasting that taxable retail sales will decline 34% for the year compared to 2019 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its crippling impacts on Aspen’s economy, which will lead to millions of dollars in shortfalls impacting critical services, the Aspen Daily News reported.

Finance officials are forecasting a weaker start to summer and next ski season. The estimates would result in $539.62 million in taxable sales in the city for the year, a 34% decline from the 2020 projection city officials went into the year with $816.76 million. The projection means millions in revenue shortfalls for various city funds and services. The city’s general fund stands to lose $3 million. Parks and open space stands to lose $4 million. Kids First, which supports child care, could lose $500,000 and the tourism promotion fund is looking at a $1.2 million reduction.
Some Events Canceling, Others Still On

In the latest blow to the city’s social calendar and summer economy, the Aspen Institute announced that it has cancelled its signature events — the Aspen Ideas Festival and Ideas: Health — this year due to concerns over the coronavirus, the Aspen Daily News reported.
The Food & Wine Classic, set to run in mid-June, which serves as the unofficial kickoff to summer, has also been cancelled.

At this time, JAS plans to present its 30th anniversary season June Experience, scheduled June 25-28, as well as its café series that spans July 9 to Aug. 16. And in a more promising turn of summer events, Belly Up has announced two upcoming shows: a rescheduled Chromeo set to June 25 and country rocker Pat Green on July 19. Theatre Aspen delayed its season to start July 6, and the Aspen Music Festival and School will begin two weeks later, July 16.

Indiana Firm Purchases Centennial Housing
An Indianapolis-based real estate investment firm specializing in affordable housing has purchased the 148-unit Centennial apartments complex in Aspen, for $51,000,0000. Birge & Held closed on the purchase of the Centennial rental apartments from Centennial Aspen II LP, the company managed by Sam Brown, who developed the project in the 1980s. The sale does not include the 92 units at Centennial that are owner occupied and managed by a homeowner’s association.

The Centennial apartments are subject to a deed restriction keeping them affordable to residents that was put in place when the project was built. The current management and maintenance team will remain in place at the property and that operations for residents and the community should be “business as usual.” Birge & Held has acquired more than 13,500 units since its inception in 2008, with more than $1.2 billion in assets currently under management across the country.

Aspen Art Museum Names New Director
Aspen Art Museum announced the appointment of New York-based curator Nicola Lees as the nonprofit’s new director, the Aspen Daily News reported. Lees will oversee every facet of the museum’s programmatic and financial operations. She joins AAM after longtime CEO and director Heidi Zuckerman stepped down from her post in the fall. Lees is the outgoing director and curator of 80 Washington Square East Gallery, an exhibition space for contemporary art at New York University.


Snowmass Village

Snowmass Will Host Colorado Classic
Major professional cycling is returning to the Roaring Fork Valley after a five-year hiatus, the Aspen Times reported. Snowmass Village will be the first of four stops on this year’s Colorado Classic road race, which takes place in late August and concludes in Denver. This will only be the fourth running of the Colorado Classic, which made its debut in 2017. It effectively replaced the short-lived USA Pro Cycling Challenge, which ran from 2011 until 2015.

Basement Exemptions Being Reexamine
Town officials are proposing an amendment to the Snowmass land-use code that would change the way basement and mechanical space exemptions are measured and determined, the Aspen Times reported. The changes are in response to a years-long trend of misuse of these exemptions in some redevelopment and new home projects, whi


Basalt

Town Coffers Expect Massive Hit
Basalt town government will move ahead with road maintenance projects once the weather warms this spring, but other spending on capital improvements will be deferred until the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis becomes clear, the Aspen Times reported.

Basalt, like most cities and towns across the U.S., is expecting a big economic blow because so many businesses are shut down because of the pandemic. Basalt relies on sales taxes for about 60% of its general fund revenue. The 2020 general fund budget anticipated $4.57 million in sales tax revenue out of total revenue of $7.58 million. Sales tax revenue also fuels the parks, open space and trails fund. While grocery and liquor store sales are up, retail is down and will affect the overall budget.


Carbondale

Red Hill Recreation Area Getting an Upgrade
Carbondale Town and Garfield County officials are gearing up for the Red Hill Road Realignment Project that is expected to create a safer and more efficient traveling experience for all community members, the Sopris Sun reported. The project can begin as early as mid-April. The improvements include realigning the CR-107 road to be straighter and safer when turning off of Highway 82; doubling parking spaces at the trailhead; and enhancing the access area. Located directly off of the intersection of Highways 82 and 133, County Road 107 is a hot spot for Red Hill trail users and RFTA commuters; the road also plays host to multiple homes located beyond the trailhead.


Glenwood Springs

US Bank Closing GWS Location
While one Glenwood Springs bank is preparing to move into the downtown core, another is pulling up stakes at another prominent street-front location on the southeast corner of Eighth Street and Grand Avenue, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported. U.S. Bank recently informed customers and its landlord, Colorado Mountain College, that it will be closing the downtown branch at 802 Grand Ave. by May 5. The bank’s office at 1901 Grand Ave. will remain. The decision came down to a consumer trend toward online banking and less need for extra physical locations.


Pitkin County

New Superintendent Named for Aspen School District
A former Superintendent of the Year will take over at the Aspen School District, the Aspen Daily News reported. Dave Baugh, current superintendent of the Centennial School District in Conshochoken, Pennsylvania accepted the Aspen School District superintendent role and will begin in July.

Baugh was the only candidate to apply from out of state and to have direct experience as a superintendent; his 24-year-old daughter lives in Avon, and the job also brings him closer to her. “He was Superintendent of the Year in Pennsylvania,” said school board member Suzy Zimet upon his hiring. “And he started a program using his therapy dog, which we all found endearing, and he improved the outcomes for the students in this district very quickly and with no drama or trauma from what we could understand.”

Pitkin County Suspends Short-term Booking
Pitkin County’s Incident Management Team is reminding the public that the latest public health order bans short-term lodging, the Aspen Daily News reported. Those who violate the order could face misdemeanor charges leading to fines and/or jail time. Officials also contacted vacation-rental agencies VRBO and Airbnb to inform them not to accept nonresident bookings of short-term rentals within county boundaries.

The county doesn’t have the capacity from a public health and safety standpoint to handle an influx of visitors. While the area has excellent health care providers and systems, would-be visitors might have access to a wider range of health services within their own communities.

Infrastructure Projects Postponed
A number of Pitkin County government’s infrastructure construction projects will be postponed as a result of the recent public health order shutting down all nonessential construction, the Aspen Daily News reported. Projects that will be put on hold include phase two of the county courthouse renovation, replacement of the upper Castle Creek Bridge, and county road overlay, striping and crack sealing improvements on Maroon Creek Road, Glen Eagle Drive and Horseshoe Drive.

Improvements to Orchard Estates, Watson Divide, Owl Creek, Brush Creek and McLain Flats roads also will be postponed. Other affected projects include construction of the Pitkin County Landfill operations building and the new baggage-handling system at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, as well as completion of improvements to the whitewater park in Basalt.