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Room Rates Up Again in Aspen and Snowmass
Hotels rooms in Aspen averaged $400 per night during June, which is well above the industry average and more than double the $171 nightly rate commanded during that same time period in Snowmass Village, according to the Aspen Daily News.
Aspen’s hotel room prices increased 8.4 percent over this same month last year, when the average was $369 per night. Snowmass’ rate was up by 13.6 percent from last year’s $150.
The increase can be attributed to the loss of rooms due to the Sky Hotel’s demolition, along with renovations to The Little Nell and Hotel Jerome.
Western resort properties reporting information for June charged an average of $230 per night, about a 7 percent increase over June 2016, when that same property fetched $215 a night. Aspen and Snowmass both topped the industry rate for the prior six months of the year.
City Council Decides Against Public Vote on New Offices
Aspen City Council members are opting to skip a public vote on a $22.3 million new government office building out of concern that the project would lose in an election, the Aspen Daily News reported.
Council members in the work session specifically criticized individual opponents of the project, saying they are given to spreading misinformation. This was part of the justification that four out of the five elected officials gave in deciding to pursue more-expensive certificates of participation (COPs) instead of general obligation bonds, which will cost up to an additional $435,000 for a $15 million issue that carries over $20 million in total repayment costs. Colorado law requires voter approval to issue general obligation bonds.
Council in April approved plans for 37,500-square-foot new city offices building for the city-owned property currently home to the Aspen Chamber Resort Association between Rio Grande Place and Galena Plaza. The building will be three stories from the lower-elevation Rio Grande side, with one story visible at the Galena Plaza level. Opponents to the project gathered signatures under the premise that the 46-foot building would exceed the city’s own downtown height limit, but officials acknowledged that the parcel sits in a zone set aside for civic purposes where those height requirements are moot.
City Looking to Woody Creek for Water Storage Solution
The city of Aspen is exploring the possibility of building a water storage reservoir in Woody Creek that could replace controversial proposals to dam Castle and Maroon creeks, the Aspen Daily News reported.
City officials announced they are under contract to purchase two parcels totaling 62.8 acres along Raceway Drive adjacent to the Elam Construction gravel pit for $2.65 million. The city is also in discussion with Elam about using the gravel pit as part of the potential future water storage plans.
The potential Woody Creek reservoir, many miles downstream from Aspen’s water treatment plant, would be “off channel,” meaning it is not the result of damming a flowing stream. City officials say it could be filled with water currently tied to storage rights dating to 1965, and decreed in 1971, for a 170-foot-tall dam cross Castle Creek two miles below Ashcroft that would store 9,062 acre feet of water; and a 155-foot-tall dam at the confluence of East and West Maroon creeks, within view of the Maroon Bells, that would hold 4,567 acre feet and inundate a portion of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness.
Tiny Homes Being Floated in Aspen Area
The housing situation for employees is so dire that one local restaurant owner is taking it upon himself to bring in tiny homes to potentially house seasonal employees, according to the Aspen Daily News. Ryan Chadwick, who owns Grey Lady and Escobar along with outpost restaurants on the East Coast, would like to bring six units at 200 square feet or less, and now he’s just looking for a place to put them.
Zoning in Aspen and Pitkin County is restrictive when it comes to a minimum house size and the mobility issues of that home. Smuggler Trailer Park is the only place zoned for a mobile home. But there are some properties that could be amended to allow this unique project, according to officials.
$600 Million Base Village Finally Under Construction
Stalled construction in Snowmass is no more, as work on five buildings and an events plaza is either under way or slated to begin later this year, according to the Aspen Daily News. The project is the largest ski resort development under way in North America, at $600 million with 10 new buildings.
The new structures include the Limelight Hotel, a 100-room, 11-residence project; a central events plaza that will allow ice skating in the winter and summer events; building 4, now called “Lumin,” that will house three residences and a Four Mountain Sports; building 6, the Discovery Center that will showcase the story behind the 2010-11 Ziegler Reservoir ice-age fossil discoveries; and buildings 7 and 8, the fake front structures along Wood Road, which include 41 residences, ground-floor commercial and a permanent replacement for the medical clinic. Work is to begin in late fall on the project’s most visible unfinished buildings.
Lodging Flat but Revenue Up
The lodging industry in Snowmass Village wasn’t any busier in June than it was last year, but the average daily rate at tourist accommodations was considerably higher, the Snowmass Sun reported. Snowmass Village’s occupancy was 47 percent — off nearly 2 percent from June 2016. The daily rate was up 13.6 percent in Snowmass.
Arts Center Gets ‘Temporary’ Home
The organizers of an arts campus at Willits Town Center are eager to open a temporary site as the first step in progressing toward a $7.25 million permanent home, the Aspen Times reported. The Arts Campus At Willits, better known as TACAW, is a nonprofit organization raising funds to construct the structure. Meanwhile, it’s opening a 140-seat venue in Willits called “The Temporary.”
The first event will be held Aug. 9. A handful of events are on the books. They are booking acts that are heavy on a mix of music, comedy and independent film. There also will be kids’ programming in a series called Kids’ Kulture. About $160,000 is being sunk into The Temporary — everything from drywall to an elaborate projector and sound system. It’s a taste of what’s to come once fundraising is underway for the larger, permanent facility.
Trustees Consider Environmental Bill of Rights
Carbondale is considering an environmental bill of rights that would advocate items including clean air, clean water, protected “viewscapes,” increased recycling, automobile alternatives and “unimpeded views of the quintessential Western night sky,” and the Carbondale Board of Trustees supports the idea as a “guiding document,” the Sopris Sun reported.
Trustees have described it as a “filter” that the board would use in its decision making, but nothing as forceful as an ordinance. This will be a bill of rights to hang on the boardroom wall and distribute through town and include 14 principles.
Free Bus Service Part of Bridge Closure Plans
A greatly expanded free public transit system in and around Glenwood Springs extending all the way west to Parachute will be the backbone of the Grand Avenue Bridge detour traffic-mitigation plan starting mid-August, the Aspen Times reported.
The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority has been working extensively with the Colorado Department of Transportation, city of Glenwood Springs officials and others to choreograph a plan to help reduce by 35 percent the number of vehicles traveling through the detour route.
It involves expanding the existing Hogback route along the Interstate 70 corridor west of Glenwood Springs to Parachute/Battlement Mesa, and making that route free with peak morning and evening service every 30 minutes, and additional park-and-ride lots.
Within Glenwood Springs, a network of free shuttles serving different zones that will replace the current fare-based Ride Glenwood service during the 95-day detour period from Aug. 14 through Nov. 16. Besides the buses, officials are advising drivers to avoid peak times (6:30-9 a.m. and 3:30-6:30 p.m.).
Airport Has One of Best Winters for Boarding
Aspen-Pitkin County Airport had one of its busiest seasons ever in 2016-17 when just shy of 150,000 passengers boarded commercial flights, the Aspen Times reported. There were slightly more than 200,000 seats on flights leaving Aspen between Dec. 1 and April 30; almost 72 percent of them were filled.
The biggest change in Aspen’s service between now and 25 years ago is where the flights are coming from. In the 1990s, United and Continental provided service between Aspen and Denver. This winter, United, American and Delta provided as many as 38 flights per day, only nine from Denver. The air carriers provided nonstop service from eight other cities.
Appeals at Pre-Recession Levels
Aspen’s Little Nell Hotel and Hotel Jerome are among hundreds of property owners who appealed the revaluations by the Pitkin County Assessor’s Office this summer, the Aspen Times reported.
Between 1,500 and 1,600 property owners filed appeals, which is about 10 percent of the total accounts. Officials say that number is normal, but it was high when the appeals coincided with the economic downturn. The number of appeals this year returned to pre-recession levels.