Real Estate in the News & First Quarter Market Reports – April 2021

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Controversial Homes Request Square Footage Exception

Two existing homes on Ute Avenue that are part of the same development are requesting amendments to their original approvals in order to increase their square footage through the city’s transferable development rights program, the Aspen Daily News reported. The application seeks to add an additional 500 square feet to each of the single-family homes, located at 1001 and 1011 Ute Ave. This would be done by purchasing and “landing” Transfer of Development Rights, or TDRs.

The applicants are planning to enclose existing patio spaces. Each home was originally approved to build 5,040 square feet of total floor area. The home at 1001 Ute Ave. is owned by Ute Mesa Lot 1 LLC, represented by Leathem Stearn. It is currently a seven-bedroom, nine-bathroom, 20,740-square-foot home listed for $75 million on Christie’s International Real Estate. The other home, at 1011 Ute Ave., is a six-bedroom, eight-bathroom, 16,726-square-foot home that sold for $22 million in 2020 to Christy Thompson, daughter of late Texas oil executive J. Cleo Thompson.

Wheeler Opera House Hopes to Reopen in May

Aspen City Council welcomed incoming Wheeler Opera House Executive Director Lisa Rigsby Peterson during an April work session, the Aspen Daily News reported. She presented a vision for a community nonprofit that includes an in-kind support program that will offer $2,500 credit to nonprofits to book events this spring. The historic Wheeler Opera House is currently accepting rental applications for late May and early June, making a safe reopening its priority. The building is also undergoing a significant exterior restoration project, with some of the scaffolding set to come down in May just in time for its doors to open.

Downtowner Goes on Hiatus this Offseason

Aspen’s Downtowner service will be suspended from April 16 to June 14 due to budgetary constraints, the Aspen Daily News reported. The free app-based, ride-hailing program provided by the city allows door-to-door service primarily within the downtown core. In 2020, rides went down 29%, passenger numbers were down 34% and shared rides were reduced by 65%. With the offseason bringing another anticipated dip in use, the city made the call to suspend the Downtowner until the busier months.

Aspen Joins Fiber Optic Cable Partnership

Aspen has signed on to a regional partnership meant to bring faster, more reliable broadband to the Roaring Fork Valley, the Aspen Daily News reported. The Aspen City Council agreed to pitch in financially — along with Pitkin County, Snowmass Village and Basalt — to lease new fiber optic cable being laid this summer by Holy Cross energy. In 2019, Aspen began hosting a MeetMe Center, one node on a 481-mile broadband network throughout northwest Colorado known as Project THOR. Each node has at least two diverse fiber routes running to it, ensuring that internet access stays strong even if there were to be an outage along the line, which has proved successful numerous times in the past year when the internet has gone down by THOR prevailed, according to officials.

Old Guard Prevails in City Election

Incumbent Ward Hauenstein and longtime local John Doyle will serve on Aspen City Council for the next four years, winning outright and eliminating the need for a runoff vote, the Aspen Daily News reported.  Hauenstein earned 1,036 votes and Doyle 993.  In Aspen, a candidate must receive more than 45% of the vote to earn a seat at the table. There were eight candidates.

Doyle campaigned strongly on his 40 years living in the valley, and often spoke of maintaining the Aspen he found when he first arrived. He fills a seat vacated by Ann Mullins who was term limited.  With 2,039 votes, incumbent mayor Torre slid into a second term.

Snowmass Village

Snowmass Announces Summer Events

The rodeo is coming back to Snowmass Village along with nearly two dozen events and activations slated for the town’s summer lineup, the Aspen Times reported. The calendar includes the return of several longstanding Snowmass traditions, including the rodeo, a Fourth of July community celebration, the hot air balloon festival, and the Snowmass Wine Festival.

Live music will still take place Thursday nights but what it looks like—whether on a big stage or not—is still to be determined.

There also are several new events on the lineup for this summer. The Snowmass Art Festival will bring a juried art show to the Snowmass Mall and Base Village in June, the Triple Crown World Series youth baseball tournament makes the town its headquarters in July and the Flynn Creek Circus will put up a big top tent for performances in Base Village in August.

Lindsay Cagley Takes Over as Challenge Aspen CEO

Adaptive sports nonprofit Challenge Aspen announced Lindsay Cagley as its new CEO, the Aspen Times reported. The longtime valley local with deep roots in Snowmass Village will be the organization’s third-ever CEO when she begins May 10. She will fill the role vacated by Jeff Hauser, who announced in October. Cagley joins Challenge Aspen after more than a decade-and-a-half in the hospitality and outdoors industries; she currently serves as the general manager of the Aspen Skiing Co.-owned Limelight Snowmass and Snowmass Mountain Club, where she has worked since January 2018.


TACAW Takes Shape for July Opening

The Arts Campus at Willits (TACAW) plans to welcome outdoor concert audiences by early July, but won’t expect to stage indoor events in its new midvalley venue until September, the Aspen Times reported. The nonprofit broke ground on the campus’s first building, the Contemporary Center for the Performing Arts, in June 2020. The project is speeding toward a June completion fueled by a $5.8 million fundraising campaign.

This summer they’re planning to host Wednesday and Saturday outdoor concerts. The concerts will be staged on a sunken lawn where the TACAW team is placing its old 16-by-18-foot steel stage previously installed at The Temporary. The lawn is the future site for the campus’s second building, planned to house a 400-seat theater with permanent seating and infrastructure for full theatrical productions.


AVLT Preserves Carbondale Ranch

Aspen Valley Land Trust is purchasing the Coffman family ranch along Catherine Road for $6.5 million, the Aspen Times reported.  The 141-acre ranch has cattle grazing, wildlife habitat, wetlands, stunning scenery and ¾–mile of Roaring Fork River frontage. The ranch is roughly 1½ miles east of Carbondale and about a quarter-mile west of Catherine Bridge.

AVLT is interested in preserving use of agricultural lands in the region as part of its mission.

The Coffman Ranch includes 35 acres of wetlands that is invaluable for wildlife. A trail looping through a portion of the property is planned, along with river access. AVLT has received $2.5 million from Great Outdoors Colorado for the purchase. Pitkin County pledged $2 million in matching funds as part of the grant even though the property is located in Garfield County. The goal is to raise $8.5 million to have funds remaining for improvements once the purchase is completed.

Glenwood Springs

Plans for Multi-Family Housing Complex Proposed

Plans to develop an empty field near the Glenwood Mall into a multimillion dollar planned unit development district were announced during a March Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported. The plan has been met with intense opposition in the West Glenwood neighborhood from residents who say the development is out of scale and will create safety issues.

On the 12 acres, developers plan to construct 360 residential rental units across a variety of housing types, including town houses, single residential units and affordable housing units. A 2,000 square-foot restaurant and 12,000 square feet of clubhouse and open space are also included in the plans. There would be 625 parking spaces in all, which includes garage parking and proposed on street parking adjacent to the development site.

Denver-to-Moab Train Service Begins in April

The Rockies to the Red Rocks route will be a two-day rail journey between Denver, Colorado, and Moab, Utah, with an overnight stay in Glenwood Springs, Colorado starting service in April. Rocky Mountaineer will launch the route with a preview season of 40 departures across 10 weeks from August 15 to October 23, 2021. The two-day rail journeys, including a one-night hotel accommodation in Glenwood Springs, will start from $1,250 USD plus tax per person. This new route will be in addition to the three rail routes that run in Western Canada, between Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies towns of Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper.

Pitkin County

Real Estate Expected to Decline in 2021

The Aspen-Snowmass real estate market is expected to decline in 2021, but it’s projected to still be a second-best banner year, according to the predictions of Aspen Appraisal Group’s Randy Gold reported by the Aspen Daily News. He told the Aspen Board of Realtors during a virtual meeting to brace for upwards of a 25% decline in overall real estate sales in 2021. Real estate professionals saw their biggest year ever, with more than $268 million in sales in 2020. Previously, the biggest year seen in Aspen land was in 2018, “when we [had] about $166 million,” Gold said.

“I think we’re going to see fewer transactions — 950 to 1,100 this year — and dollar volume … roughly between 25 to 30% — somewhere between $2.7 and $3 billion,” he said. “While the market is going to be down compared to 2020 potentially, if my projections are correct, it’ll still be the second-biggest year in Aspen-Snowmass real estate history.”

New Parking Program Institute for Construction Sites

Pitkin County will implement a new residential construction parking program on its county roads beginning in May, the Aspen Daily News reported. Construction managers are asked to apply for a parking permit through Pitkin County Public Works and will need to request parking spots adjacent to the county road. The spots may not exceed the limits of the property boundaries of the construction site adjacent to the county road.

Contractors who don’t comply with the new system will be issued a stop-work order from the building department through a red tag. Annual permits are $6,000 per parking spot; permits good from April 1 to Aug. 15 run $4,000 per parking spot; permits issued after Aug. 15 are $2,000 per parking spot; 30-day permits, $1,000 per parking spot.

ASFB Dissolves, Forms Innovation Fund

After 25 years, the internationally renowned, locally based Aspen Santa Fe Ballet has dissolved and will not return post-pandemic, the Aspen Daily News reported. The company is launching the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Fund for Innovation in Dance. The fund will aim to share the nonprofit’s resources and connections to preserve and advance dance in the region and in the field at large. The initiatives will be calibrated to meet the needs of the sector, addressing both the shorter-term priorities of dance artists and organizations as they recover from the pandemic while also supporting longer-term evolution to sustain dance into the future.

Reservations Required Again for Maroon Bells this Summer

A reservation system for parking and shuttles at the Maroon Bells Scenic Area will return this summer with tweaks affecting backpackers and hikers, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported. Those looking for a shuttle ride down from Maroon Lake to Aspen Highlands after their long hikes will be required to make a reservation this year. The one-way ticket will be $10 and an advanced purchase will be necessary.

The system was inundated last summer with people showing up at Maroon Lake and looking for a shuttle ride down. Backpackers who were completing the Four Pass Loop or some other route plus day hikers making the pilgrimage over from Crested Butte swelled the number of people trying to catch rides down. The $10 fee will help RFTA cover its costs. Bus drivers won’t be able to sell tickets and no cellphone service is available up the high valley, so arrangements must be made in advance.