Real Estate in the News – December 2018

This is my wish for you: peace of mind, prosperity through the year, happiness that multiplies, health for you and yours, fun around every corner, energy to chase your dreams, joy to fill your holidays! ~ D.M. Dellinger


Aspen


Hopkins Building Set to Be All Commercial

The soon-to-be-redeveloped downtown building that voters passed over for city government offices appears destined for offices of another type, the Aspen Daily News reported. A corporation controlled by Mark Hunt is applying to change a 2016 approval for the redevelopment of 517 E. Hopkins Ave. from a two-story, mixed-use building with affordable housing on top to a building that is comprised entirely of commercial space.

Hunt received approval in August to convert his 2016 plan into city offices, but he must go back to Aspen’s Historic Preservation Commission and the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority board to make the space available for leasing to private tenants. Hunt will also have to provide affordable housing for 15.81 employees, which he is proposing to mitigate with affordable housing credit certificates.

Chase Bank will open its first Aspen branch on the Hyman Avenue pedestrian mall on Dec. 17, the Aspen Daily News reported. The branch not only marks the bank’s entry into Aspen, but also its first foray to the Western Slope.

Renovations are under way in the 1,900-square-foot space in the Paragon Building at 419 E. Hyman Ave. It will be a full-service branch but obviously will not feature drive-through banking because it’s located on a pedestrian mall. Two ATMs will be located inside the branch, accessible outside of regular banking hours.

Voters Approve New Building, Election Date Change

Aspen voters backed a plan to build a new office building on publicly-owned land near the library over a counter proposal to buy downtown real estate from a private developer, the Aspen Daily News reported. Option B won decisively in the returns posted city of Aspen Ballot Issue 2D, carrying 57 percent to 43 percent for Option A, with roughly 80 percent of the vote counted. The winning plan will see a 37,000-square-foot building built on the sloping site abutting the public parking garage, between Galena Plaza and Rio Grande Place, for a projected cost of $26.1 million.

Aspen voters backed a plan to build a new office building on publicly-owned land near the library over a counter proposal to buy downtown real estate from a private developer, the Aspen Daily News reported. Option B won decisively in the returns posted city of Aspen Ballot Issue 2D, carrying 57 percent to 43 percent for Option A, with roughly 80 percent of the vote counted. The winning plan will see a 37,000-square-foot building built on the sloping site abutting the public parking garage, between Galena Plaza and Rio Grande Place, for a projected cost of $26.1 million.

In addition, voters approved moving the municipal election date from the first Tuesday in May to the first Tuesday in March, when more of the population is in town. During May, Aspen is at the year’s lowest occupancy as many residents leave for offseason.


Snowmass


Mill Levy Increase Supported for Fire Protection

A proposal for the Snowmass Village fire district to adjust its mill levies to maintain current property tax revenue levels was approved by overwhelming margins by voters in the Nov. 6 election, the Aspen Times reported. The vote on the Snowmass-Wildcat Fire Protection District question was 673 in favor and 265 against though numerous votes were still to be counted in Pitkin County.


Basalt


Expanded Health Facility Opening in Basalt

Mountain Family Health Center in Basalt — which focuses on providing primary, behavioral health and dental care to low-income valley residents — is about to move into a much larger facility that will allow it to double the number of patients it serves, the Aspen Times reported.

The new building — across Highway 82 from the old location on Cody Lane — quadruples the amount of space for the clinic and will offer full-time dental and behavioral health services for the 25 percent of Roaring Fork Valley residents who live at 200 percent of the poverty level. The current facility serves about 2,000 people, while the new building — where Stubbies bar and the Ho Palace Chinese restaurant are located — will be able to serve about 3,700 people.


Carbondale


Crystal River Meats Declares Bankruptcy

Crystal River Meats, owner of Carbondale restaurant Fatbelly Burgers, has gone out of business, the Sopris Sun reported. The company is caught in litigation that has caused financial duress. All businesses associated with CR Holdings, Inc. have suspended operations. Crystal River Meats is the wholesale distribution arm of the holding company.

West Main Development Approved

A large development on the West end of Main Street has received a major site plan review, conditional use permit and requests for alternative compliance in order to move ahead, the Sopris Sun reported. A new City Market — long intended as the anchor institution of proposed developments on the former CRMS property northwest of the roundabout — has already been approved for lots 2-4, while First Bank is planning to make use of lot 5.

The 5.37 acre parcel in question is now slated for the Main Street Marketplace, a mixed-use development with around 10,000 square feet of commercial space and 115 rental residential units ranging from “studios on stilts” to three bedroom townhomes. It likely won’t be built all at once, but the 23 deed-restricted units are arranged to develop at the same rate as the rest of the complex.


Glenwood Springs


Glenwood Meadows Under Transformation

Glenwood Meadows shopping center is undergoing renovations, as Marshalls will take up part of the space formerly held by Sports Authority, while Vitamin Cottage plans to move from its current Glenwood Meadows location to the other part. Both businesses are scheduled to open in the spring.


Pitkin County


Pitkin County Considers Cloud Seeding for Moisture

Pitkin County Commissioners agreed to hear more information about the expanding science of cloud seeding before approving a funding request, the Aspen Daily News reported. The $25,000 request is part of a set of larger “augmentative” initiatives throughout the Colorado River to increase snowfall.

Three ground-based generators, which vaporize and release into the air minute quantities of silver that become dust-sized particles, are already in the valley. Silver iodide is sprayed across the generator’s propane flame, and roughly 15 to 30 minutes later, if the process works — it’s effective in only about 30 percent of storms — ice crystals grow large enough to fall to the earth as snow. The efforts could result in an extra 60,000 acre feet of water in the region’s rivers.

Pandora’s Expansion on Aspen Mountain a Go

The White River National Forest signaled its approval of projects to expand ski terrain on Aspen Mountain into the Pandora zone and install enough snowmaking for top to-bottom coverage, the Aspen Daily News report. Building a new 1,200-vertical-foot lift off the upper east side of the existing ski area boundary, severing what is now popular side-country terrain, and closing the gap on the snowmaking system have been in the ski area’s long-term plans for decades.

Construction on phase one of the snowmaking, involving infrastructure and 15 acres of coverage, could begin as soon as this summer, pending Pitkin County approval. Some timber clearing could begin this summer for the Pandora lift, but lift installation won’t happen until summer 2020. It is expected to open for the 2020-21 season.

Explosive Growth of Rental by Owners Noted

A survey of tourist accommodations in Aspen, Snowmass and down valley communities that is conducted every three years shows explosive growth in the use of “rental by owner” platforms and a trend toward more luxury homes available for short-term rental in Aspen, the Aspen Daily News reported.

Aspen showed a 4.7 percent decrease in the number of available units since 2015, primarily because of the loss of the Sky Hotel. Despite the loss of the Sky, the pillow count in Aspen went up 5.2 percent, which is largely attributed to 30 new professionally managed private homes that brought an additional 358 pillows to Aspen’s bed-base. Since 2015, Snowmass has seen a 4.4 percent decrease in units and a 2.6 percent decrease in pillows. The loss of 79 units is primarily the result of a shift from traditionally managed units to rentals by owner, with the demise of the Snowmass Hospitality property management company.

Pitkin County Election Results

Several issues and elected positions were decided at the polls in early November. Sheriff Joe DiSalvo was reelected, defeating Aspen police officer Walter Chi. Deb Bamesberger was elected as county assessor, beating Mick Ireland. County commissioner Patti Clapper was reelected, defeating Rob Ittner, and Kelly McNicholas Kury ran unopposed for a commissioner’s seat as well.

Voters overwhelmingly approved an increase in property taxes to support the Healthy Community Fund, which provides money for health and human services. In addition, voters approved a property tax to support the Aspen Volunteer Fire Department as well. Another property tax to support the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority also passed.