Real Estate in the News!
Council Institutes Mortarium on Rentals, Building
Aspen’s elected officials capped the year off of unprecedented real estate speculation when they abruptly put the brakes on residential development and the issuance of permits for short-term rentals via emergency ordinance, the Aspen Times reported. Aspen City Council and staff plan to hit the gas hard in the beginning of 2022 to start the complicated and controversial work to align the municipal government’s policies and land-use code with what they see as unmitigated growth in the residential sector of the community. The residential moratorium is in place until June 8, with the short-term rental pause scheduled to be lifted after Sept. 30.
Aspen Homeless Shelter Shuts Down
After 13 years of service, the nonprofit Aspen Homeless Shelter will discontinue its services as of March 31, the Aspen Daily News reported. Reasons cited for the nonprofit’s shuttering include increased need, recent upheavals in the local service network that supports the homeless, and the retirement of the organization’s longtime director. The nonprofit’s interim director also resigned.
The winter overnight shelter at the Aspen Chapel, operated by AHS and Resources Recovery, is also closed. The seasonal shelter originally was intended to be in place through March. The Aspen Homeless Shelter operates a day center in the county’s health and human services building, where Recovery Resources also has offices and a detox facility.
Two Aspen Childcare Businesses to Close
Aspen Mountain Tots and Playgroup Aspen recently announced their decision to permanently close because of new lease terms enforced by the city, which owns the buildings from which they operate, the Aspen Daily News reported. When accounting for both organizations’ closures, the total number of potentially lost childcare spaces per week is 256, a significant number in an already tight market.
New lease terms set to take effect in September 2023 mandate that each organization offer childcare services eight hours per day, from 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., five days per week. Currently, each organization operates four days a week. The childcare groups receive below-market rents, and city officials say operators with more hours may be able to move into these spaces.
Aspen School District Buys Teacher Housing
The Aspen School District is marching along on its voter-approved directive to acquire more housing for teachers and staff with the acquisition of seven units, located on the corner of 8th and Hallam streets, for $6.6 million, the Aspen Daily News reported. The seven units include 18 bedrooms, and employees are moving in this weekend. The Hallam development was part of the city’s housing credit program, in which developers build affordable housing to mitigate for employee housing requirements on commercial projects.
Voters approved a $94.3 million bond in 2020, with $45 million of it dedicated to housing for teachers. Currently the district houses 69 employees, or 26% of its staff. With the new bond money, the district aims to offer housing for 54% of staff by 2023. Additional purchases include a North Ridge three-bedroom townhome in Snowmass for $959,485, a one-bedroom Waterview condo for $445,000, a Mill Street one-bedroom unit for $500,000 and two units on Main Street for $1.48 million.
Final Component of Tree Farm Under Contract
The land for the fourth and final major component of the Tree Farm project in the El Jebel area is under contract for sale to a Scottsdale real estate developer and his family, the Aspen Times reported. Walt Brown Jr., founder and CEO of Diversified Partners has grand plans for the property which borders Kodiak Ski Lake across from Willits.
Three lots closest to the lake, the “A lots,” will have 14 condominiums and 13,556 square feet of commercial space. The “B lots,” located west of the A lots, will have 36 rental condos in roughly 38,000 square feet of space. The “C lot” on the northwest corner of the intersection of Highway 82 and Willits Lane will have about 3,000 square feet of commercial space on the lower floor and 10 deed-restricted, affordable housing sale units on the upper floor. The entire Tree Farm project is approved for nearly 135,000 square feet of commercial space and 340 homes. Construction is set to begin in the spring.
Downtowner Pilot Program Approved
Traveling within and between Basalt’s two halves via mass transit should be a lot easier next year thanks to an experiment being funded by the town and Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, the Aspen Times reported. RFTA and the town of Basalt will split the cost of free, on-demand service called the Downtowner. RFTA will provide a $190,000 grant. Basalt will contribute an equal amount. Basalt is shaped like a barbell with weights. Willits is at the west weight of the barbell. Old town and Southside are the east-end weight. Basalt officials have long coveted cost-effective, flexible mass transit that connects the two sides of town and makes travel easier within the pods.
Town Trustees Consider Limiting Short-Term Rentals
A discussion led by Community First Carbondale, a group formed about six months ago to address the effects of short-term rentals, drew praise from Carbondale Board of Town Trustees, The Aspen Daily News reported. CFC collected 110 signatures toward a ballot initiative to limit short-term rentals — defined as “a property, dwelling unit or sleeping room rented for a period of 29 consecutive days or less” — to only primary residences in Carbondale, and to leverage an associated 10% tax plus licensing fees toward implementation and enforcement, with any leftover funds allocated to affordable housing. The group’s proposal also designates that medium-term rental — between 30 and 90 consecutive days — are allowed with a permit for residences not occupied by a full-time citizen.
Pool Likely Going to Voters
Carbondale voters will likely be asked in the April 2022 election whether the town should take on debt to fund an estimated $7 million rebuild of the municipal pool facility, the Aspen Times reported. The plan calls for converting the existing pool facility at the southeast corner of Main and Seventh streets to include multiple bodies of water, a dedicated three- or four-lane lap pool, a 3,000 square-foot entertainment pool, a 2,500-square-foot splash pad, and a 200-square-foot hot tub. The project would also feature a new 3,800-square-foot bathhouse with optional second-floor space and a shaded lounge area along the west side. An analysis determined that a bond issue could be accomplished using existing revenues from a dedicated recreation sales and use tax, but operational expenses continue to be the big question.
REI Coming to Glenwood
Glenwood Springs is set to become home to the ninth Colorado location for the popular member-owned REI Co-op outdoor specialty store, the Aspen Times reported. The national retailer plans to open the new store next summer, featuring apparel and gear for camping, cycling, running, hiking, fitness, climbing and snow sports.
The store’s location is 3216 S. Glen Ave., in a 20,030-square-foot space at the Roaring Fork Marketplace that was formerly occupied by Office Depot. Store amenities are to include a full-service bike and ski shop, gear rentals and online order pickup services, both in-store and curbside.
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A Slew of New Restaurants Debut
Originally delayed by Covid, a handful of new restaurants opened in Snowmass this December, the Aspen Times reported. The list includes Kenichi, located in Base Village with a similar vibe to its Aspen and Carbondale (Izakaya) locations; Aurum Aspen Snowmass, a sister restaurant to locations in Breckenridge and Steamboat Springs, situated at the base of Fanny Hill; Alpin Room, an on-mountain fine-dining establishment at the top of the Alpine Springs lift; Last Chair, a new restaurant inside the remodeled Wildwood hotel near the Snowmass Mall; and Stark’s Alpine Grill, a supper-club-style experience at Stark’s Alpine Grill, located inside Viewline Resort Snowmass, right off of Fanny Hill.
Stevie Nicks to Headline JAS
After cancelling her performance for JAS Labor Day Festival in 2021 because of Covid concerns, Stevie Nicks announced she’ll try again for 2022, the Aspen Daily News reported. She will join two other Grammy-winning headliners in the weekend festival, Sept. 2-4, also featuring Chris Stapleton and Leon Bridges. 2022 will mark JAS performance debuts for all three artists.
Aura Development Plans Approved
Snowmass Village Town Council gave the green light on a resolution approving final architectural plans for Base Village Building 12, the Aspen Times reported. The building, dubbed “Aura,” is slated for construction on Lot 7 along Assay Hill just south of the Viceroy. Aura’s 21 units will be among the largest in the Base Village residential inventory: each unit has four or five bedrooms and averages about 2,655 square feet per unit. That’s more than double the size and less than half the number compared to Electric Pass Lodge, which is currently under construction with 52 two- and three-bedroom free-market units averaging about 1,135 square feet, plus one deed-restricted unit.
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County Eyes Short-Term Rental Policy
Pitkin County commissioners preliminarily approved an ordinance in December that regulates the short-term rental industry in unincorporated areas of the county and will require a license, the Aspen Times reported. The proposed ordinance — scheduled for public comment at a hearing with commissioners Jan. 26 — is a bid to both collect sales tax on properties rented for less than 30 days and protect neighborhoods in Woody Creek, Old Snowmass and on Red Mountain from being hotelized by out of town, investment property owners.
Under the proposal, a non-primary residence cannot be rented on a short-term basis. For properties owned by legal entities like LLCs or trusts, the applicant must have an interest in the property. The ordinance could also prohibit short-term rentals in the Rural and Remote zone, and only allow short-term rental licenses to primary residents.
TDR Sells for $1.8 Million
The Aspen area’s super-heated real estate market has helped push the price of transferable development rights from $360,000 last year to close to $2 million now, the Aspen Times reported. A TDR sold for $1.8 million in December. The transferable development rights, often called TDRs, are tied to Pitkin County’s unique program to severely limit development of the back-country.
One benefit of this program was the Alfred A. Braun Hut system, which received a gift 14 years ago that has blossomed into a $1 million endowment for the community institution. The organization received 5 acres of land on Richmond Ridge in 2007 from the Gale and Ellie Spence family and the John and Betty Oakes family. Gale Spence and John Oakes co-founded Aspen Sports in 1953. The hut system sold a transferable development right from the property on Sept. 30 for $1 million.