Compliments of the Aspen Board of REALTORS® A rundown of government and business activity over the last month, focusing on issues and items that are of particular interest to the Real Estate community
Recycling Center Input Requested
The city of Aspen is seeking public input on the future of the Rio Grande Recycle Center. Since 1993, the RGRC has been in operation for drop-off recycling services for glass, cardboard, metals, plastic, batteries, textiles, and seasonal waste. The RGRC has been free to the public but has been funded by Pitkin County. This August, Pitkin County’s funding of the RGRC operations will end. The city wants to hear what the public would like to see happen to the RGRC, including future funding options and levels of service. To participate in a survey and provide feedback visit AspenCommunityVoice.com and click on Rio Grande Recycle Center.
Mesirow, Richards Elected to Council, Lift One Passes
Rachel Richards and Skippy Mesirow were elected outright to the Aspen City Council in a four-way contest for the two available seats this year, the Aspen Daily News reported. Richards, who recently ended her third term as a Pitkin County commissioner and previously served as Aspen mayor and council member, was a clear winner with 1,729 votes. Mesirow, a relative newcomer to local politics who last fall successfully lobbied Aspen voters to move the election date from its traditional May date to March, also cleared the 1,228-vote threshold needed to avoid a runoff by pulling 1.433 votes.
In the same election, Aspen voters supported the Lift One corridor project by 26 votes, backing a large lodging development that brings with it new ski facilities and access to the west side of Aspen Mountain. Nearly 3,100 voters cast ballots, decimating the previous record turnout in a municipal election of 2,544 in 2009. That was the intended result of voters amending the city charter last November, moving the municipal election from May to March on the theory that holding the vote when more people are in town would result in higher participation.
Mark Hunt Buys Main Street Bakery
After sitting empty for nearly two-and-a-half years, the historic building at 201 E. Main St. — known to most as the former Main Street Bakery — sold to Aspen developer Mark Hunt for $5.5 million, according to the Aspen Times. He plans to turn it into a diner, open in the morning, throughout the day and late night.
Melanie Griffith Sells Homes for $4 Million
Actress Melanie Griffith sold her Aspen Mountain retreat — a seven-bedroom, eight-bathroom log house on 2 acres — for $4 million after originally listing it for sale in 2015, the Aspen Times reported. Griffith, who bought the 7,391-square-foot house for $3.55 million in 2002 with her then-husband, Antonio Banderas, initially advertised both the home and its neighboring guesthouse, historic cabin and 12 acres for $9.9 million in 2015.
Sales Tax Off to Strong Start
Sales tax collections in Snowmass Village began the year strong, showing a 10.48 percent increase in January, to $398,377.78, compared to the same month in 2018, the Aspen Daily News reported. According to figures recently released by the town’s finance department, there was an across the board increase in all sectors contributing to the general fund during January 2019, except for e-commerce, which saw a very slight decrease, .88 percent, year-over-year.
Lodging was up 10.85 percent or $19,290.64, to $197,057.09. Restaurants saw a 3.29 increase in collections to $59,183.22. General retail experienced a large increase, 11.34 percent, generating $18,379.99 in sales tax for the month. Retail, construction-related, was up by 86.60 percent, to $7,950.31. In the miscellaneous category, sales tax collections rose to $3,736.09, a leap of 62.10 percent.
Pot Shops to Be Legal in Snowmass
After talking pot at the town level for more than five-and-a-half years, on May 1 dispensaries will be legal in Snowmass Village, the Aspen Times reported. Snowmass Town Council unanimously approved the ordinance allowing pot shops as well as the town’s carefully crafted set of regulations. The town of Snowmass first posed its moratorium on marijuana establishments in September 2013, after Colorado voters approved recreational pot sales in November 2012.
Dorm-Style Housing for SkiCo Passes First Test
Aspen Skiing Co.’s proposal to build a dorm-style affordable-housing project in Basalt passed the first of many tests that it will face in the town government review process, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported. The project would have 36 units, including eight that would be offered as deed-restricted affordable housing with a priority for day care workers.
The remaining 26 units would go to Skico employees. They would be six-bedroom units with a smaller number of one-, two- and four-bedrooms. The largest units would have four bedrooms clustered around a kitchen-dining area and living room, with two additional bedrooms in a loft.
Neighbors Mount Opposition to Storage Facilities
The fight against two proposed storage facilities near Carbondale is coming to a head, the Aspen Times reported. Critics say that the proposed Blue Mountain Mini Storage facility will turn the area near Catherine Store into “urban sprawl” with a “big box,” industrial-looking building. Many are also opposed a separate storage facility proposal near Crystal Springs Road. The Garfield County Board of County Commissioners held public meetings and conducted a site visit but have not made a final decision.
Carbondale Arts Receives National Grant
Carbondale Arts announced that the nonprofit organization is a recipient of the national DeVos Grant for Strategic Planning, the Aspen Times reported. The grant is to provide up to $75,000 to
help foster artistic endeavors in the community. Based at the University of Maryland, the DeVos Institute of Arts Management provides training, consultation and implementation support for arts managers and their boards.
The grant will serve as an opportunity for the community at large, not just the arts organization, to focus on financial diversification, long-term artistic and educational programming, marketing and communication, community and volunteer engagement, cross-sector collaboration, fundraising and board engagement.
Safeway Replacement Is Uncertain
What’s to take the place of the Safeway store on Grand Avenue when the current occupants leave in April is in question, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported. The lot that Safeway has occupied since the 1990s has not been sold, but a spokesperson for Albertsons Cos. said the company would be putting the property on the market.
The announcement of Safeway’s impending closure did renew a local movement to petition Trader Joe’s to move to Glenwood Springs. Over the past several years, some residents of Glenwood Springs and surrounding towns have posted links to the petition on various Facebook community groups.
Pandora’s Expansion Gets the Green Light from Forest Service
The Forest Service has issued its final decision approving the Aspen Mountain Pandora’s Development and Summit Snowmaking projects, the Aspen Daily News reported. The decision authorizes the development of 180 acres of ski terrain, a chairlift, an access road to the bottom lift terminal, snowmaking infrastructure and new snowmaking coverage on 53 acres of terrain.
The 1,200-vertical-foot Pandora’s chairlift would start 1,500 linear feet downslope of the existing bottom of Walsh’s run, extending that run as well as Hyrup’s and Kristi past Lud’s Lane. Implementation of the project is expected to begin in summer 2019 with a portion of the snowmaking project moving forward. SkiCo Vice President for Communications Jeff Hanle noted that Pitkin County’s approval is needed before any work can go forward; SkiCo’s application to the county is pending.
Aspen Single-Family Home Sales Experience Sharp Decline
The Aspen area’s real estate market may be heading into its next down cycle and sellers of high-end homes will likely have to adjust their prices to more realistic levels, a local appraiser told the Aspen Board of Realtors luncheon. That said, don’t expect anything as drastic as the 2009 downturn, said Randy Gold of the Aspen Appraisal Group to over 300 people.
Gold predicted that overall dollar volume and number of transactions will dip slightly in 2019, coming off of 2018’s decline from 2017. However, he expected that property values overall will remain stable, albeit with some softening at the upper end. The softest sector of the market in 2018, according to Gold’s analysis, was in Aspen single-family homes. Sales in that category
were down 26 percent with a 37 percent dip with dollar volume. The drop off was particularly acute in properties priced over $10 million, which saw a 40 percent decline.