Aspen Club Construction to Restart
A dormant construction site for more than three years, the Aspen Club is poised in 2021 to restart its townhome, athletic club remodel and employee housing project, the Aspen Daily News reported. Development partner Revere Capital — which is among the creditors of the Aspen Club’s former owners — said it would work to complete the unfinished club and spa building at 1450 Ute Ave., 20 condominiums that could be sold with up to 160 fractional shares and 12 employee housing units. In January, the property sold in foreclosure for $52,588,499 to GPIF Aspen Club, a limited liability company which had been pursuing the foreclosure.
Restoration Hardware to Invest $105 Million Into Aspen Development
Luxury home furnishings company RH (formerly known as Restoration Hardware) shared plans to invest $105 million in Aspen real estate — including the addition of a two-story downtown storefront, two restaurants, multiple residences and a boutique hotel, bath house and spa at the site of the now-defunct Crystal Palace, the Aspen Daily News reported. Construction has already begun on the projects and should be completed by 2022.
RH will open an interior storefront, which it refers to as a gallery, in a new building at the corner of Galena and Cooper, across from Paradise Bakery. Also, a recent teardown, the site at 300 E. Hyman — formerly home to the historic, iconic Crystal Palace — will be home to RH’s guest suites on the main level, a bathhouse and spa in the lower level and another restaurant and private pool on the rooftop. The RH Residences at the historic Boomerang Lodge — which Hunt purchased in June of 2018 for $10 million — will include up to five fully furnished four-bedroom custom homes. Another RH Residence will resurrect on Red Mountain. The fully furnished six-bedroom home will offer terraces and an infinity pool.
Housing, Wheeler Benefit from Real Estate Sales
Free-market and commercial property sales totaling $1.8 billion within Aspen city limits last year resulted in $17.6 million in real estate sales tax collections for the city’s housing program and another $9.5 million for its downtown performing-arts venue, the Aspen Times reported. The city requires buyers of property within Aspen — which doesn’t include Castle Creek Road, McLain Flats, Old Snowmass, Red Mountain, Redstone, Starwood, Woody Creek, and other surrounding, unincorporated residential areas in Pitkin County — to pay the voter-approved 1.5% real estate transfer tax upon closing.
Steep Trail Near Pitkin Jail to Flatten Out, A Little
Aspen City Council agreed to make modifications to the infamously steep Jail Trail that connects Rio Grande Park to Main Street, a project that will cost nearly $600,000, the Aspen Times reported. The 278-foot-long path, which runs in between the county jail and the Rio Grande building, is currently at a 12% grade. That will be changed to 7.5%, which is not ADA compliant but due to the constraints in the area that is as good as it can get.
The trail will get ripped up anyway because Pitkin County is required to replace the storm water system within the corridor as part of its permit for the courthouse and jail remodel. The county and city entered into an intergovernmental agreement and divied up the costs, with the city on the hook for $490,000 for the trail improvements and the county paying $101,000 for its portion of the work.
Electric Pass Lodge Units Go on Sale
The new 53-unit Electric Pass Lodge in Snowmass’s Base Village will be 100% powered by renewable energy utilizing cutting-edge technology and design, the Aspen Daily News reported. Reservations opened in January for the two- and three-bedroom ski-in/ski-out residential properties located across from the Viceroy Snowmass. East West Partners is developing the $600-million Base Village project at the bottom of the Snowmass ski area.
The residences are described as being Scandinavian inspired using more natural light, using the sun for warmth, opening up the windows, having fresh air and a connection to the outdoors. Prices for the residences start at $1.4 million and each owner will have access to a range of private amenities including Zoom rooms, a health club, a lounge, courtyard, ski locker room, storage and underground parking. The energy will come from a combination of energy produced by a solar array on the roof of the building and from off-site renewable resources provided by Holy Cross.
Marijuana Tax to Be Used for Mental Health
Snowmass Village officials plan to use last year’s revenue from a marijuana sales tax to support community mental health services in the future, the Aspen Times reported. Initially a ballot question approving the sales tax did not specify where the funds would go.
Instead of placing all of the marijuana tax into the town’s multipurpose general fund, the monies (along with revenue from the Pitkin County tobacco tax) will be allocated to a reserve account. The intent to use marijuana sales tax revenue to support mental health services mirrors a program already in place with the Pitkin County tobacco tax that voters approved in 2019. The ballot measure included provisions to use the revenue for mental health and substance abuse prevention programs in addition to tax collection, licensing and enforcement initiatives.
Sales Tax Up in Basalt
A preliminary year-end sales tax report shows sales tax revenue increased 14.3% over 2019, the Aspen Times reported. The December sales tax report, which reflects actual sales in November, was up 8%. Basalt will reap more than $7 million in sales tax revenue for 2020. The town ended up collecting about $200,000 more than anticipated for its general fund. A separate sales tax dedicated for use for parks, open space and trails reaped about $90,000 more than forecast.
Basalt Council Gives Nod to Sportsplex
A privately funded sportsplex received a preliminary nod from Crown Mountain Park’s board of directors in January, the Aspen Times reported. The sportsplex was proposed by Sheldon Wolitski, a business executive who recently relocated to the Roaring Fork Valley. The main components of his 90,000-square-foot sportsplex include a hockey arena, covered turf and a recreation facility, built on land leased from Eagle County. Eagle County owns the 124-acre park and open space site, which is adjoined by vacant U.S. Forest Service land. In addition to being the landlord, the county commissioners would have to approve changes to the existing land-use approvals.
Part of River Smoothed Out for Safer Passage
Work currently underway in the Roaring Fork River between old town Basalt and Willits will make for a smoother ride for boaters beginning this spring, the Aspen Times reported. The project, with an estimated price tag of $935,000, requires a temporary cofferdam during construction across much of the river’s channel, with heavy machinery in the exposed river bed.
It will create two new “grade-control” structures to replace a weir that was used to channel water toward a diversion for the Robinson Ditch. That weir created a difficult passage for boaters that was often referred to as Anderson Falls. Instead of that steep drop with no clear passage around or through, the project has been designed by Carbondale-based River Restoration to create a gradual riffle drop between the grade-control structures.
Sopris Shopping Center Redevelopment Displaces Nine Businesses
The Sopris Shopping Center will be redeveloped, eliminating Sopris Self Storage, and replacing it with a modern, three-story building, the Aspen Daily News reported. Nine tenants will have to find new homes as part of the redevelopment. The western portion of the property, if subdivision is approved, retains 10,370 square feet of commercial space, compared with the existing building’s 29,896 square feet of commercial. Moreover, 76 new rental units would join Carbondale’s housing inventory, divided between two new buildings proposed by Loge Properties.
This western portion, acquired from Stein Properties, LP, is in addition to Loge Properties’ mixed-use development just south across Colorado Avenue, where 27 residential units and 3,000 square feet of commercial space are under construction adjacent to the roundabout. The tenants finding new homes include Ming’s Cafe, Ragged Mountain Sports and El Pollo Rico.
Ranch Moves Closer to Conservation
Garfield County gave another financial boost to the Aspen Valley Land Trust’s efforts to secure a 141-acre Carbondale-area ranch that would maintain its agricultural use and preserve natural riverfront habitat, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported.
County commissioners released $200,000 from the county’s Conservation Trust Fund to go toward the $8.5 million campaign to purchase and protect the Coffman Ranch, located 3 miles east of Carbondale.
Once the deal is closed, the plan is to maintain the property as a working ranch, but with public access to about three-quarters of a mile of Roaring Fork River frontage and opportunities for outdoor education uses. AVLT secured a $2.5 million Great Outdoors Colorado grant last June to go toward the land conservation effort and is moving closer to the final goal of $8.5 million.
Busy Intersection Gets Financial Boost for Underpass
The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority board has agreed to make up the funding difference for a planned underpass at 27th Street in Glenwood Springs to better service the South Glenwood bus station, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported. Those delayed improvements had amounted to approximately $700,000 per year. They included the proposed extension of Bus Rapid Transit service from 27th Street to downtown Glenwood, and the resumption of local bus service along the Highway 6 & 24.
Glenwood Springs City Council moved forward the plan to prioritize the pedestrian underpass at 27th Street and South Glen/Colorado Highway 82. More than $2 million was still needed to complete the $10.1 million crossing, which was approved by City Council in August to improve safety at the busy intersection.
Real Estate Sales Top $3 Billion in 2020
2020 was a record-setting year posting more than $3.1 billion in total property sales volume in Pitkin County due largely to a surge in demand for local home ownership because of the pandemic, the Aspen Times reported. In May alone, the city of Aspen’s real estate transfer tax collections were down 86% from May 2019 because of limited showings and traffic. But as the pandemic bore down, interest in Aspen-area property went up. Aspen alone ended the year with more than $2.5 billion in residential sales and Snowmass with $575 million. Nine residential sales eclipsed the $25 million mark in 2020. And for all of 2020, 29 properties sold for more than $20 million.
Airport Decreasing Flights, for Now
United Airlines and American Airlines scaled back their January flight schedules into ASE when they realized that demand wasn’t as strong as they had previously predicted, the Aspen Daily News reported. But officials are hoping loosening restrictions will bring more visitors.
Looking at the winter numbers, combined, United and American scheduled 592 commercial flights to Aspen in December, a decrease of 14.7%, compared with 694 flights in December 2019. However, last year’s total also reflected flights by Delta Air Lines, which suspended its Aspen service in mid-2020.
The total number of passengers flown into ASE in December was 39,974 — a 38.4% decrease compared with the same month last year. Comparatively, the Transportation Safety Administration reported a decrease of 62.4% in domestic air travel for December. Flight loads generally ran about 50% in December, meaning half the seats on the average commercial flight to Aspen were filled. In December 2019, about 75% of available seats to ASE were filled.