Real Estate In the News – February 2022


Occupancy Records Set in December
New records were set in hotel and lodging occupancy in Aspen and Snowmass, the Aspen Daily News reported. Aspen’s December occupancy was recorded at 64.1%, besting the previous record for the same month two years ago by 3.7%. The comparison was made to December 2019 instead of December 2020 because of economic impacts of Covid-19. Aspen topped all other winter resort markets as well. Snowmass set an occupancy record too, with 56%, besting December 2019 by 9.6 %. Combined, the two markets realized occupancy of 60.9%.

Real Estate Transfer Tax Collections Set Record
Aspen’s hot housing market lifted the city’s real estate transfer tax collections to new heights in 2022, with a record amount of $22.1 million injected into the affordable-housing coffers and $10.8 million to the Wheeler Opera House fund, the Aspen Times reported. The city reported that affordable housing collections through the RETT topped last year’s previous record of $17.6 million by 20%. The Wheeler’s year-end totals also were 14% better than the $9.5 million haul in 2020. The soaring collection totals mirrored sales of free-market homes and condos in Aspen in 2021, which accounted for a combined $2.7 billion in sales through November 2021.

Banana Republic Likely Coming Back to Aspen
The Aspen Planning & Zoning Commission elected to grant a land-use variance to allow two spaces within 420 E. Hyman Ave. to combine two commercial spaces — one on the ground floor and one in the basement — to serve interested tenant Banana Republic, the Aspen Daily News reported. The variance was granted because the applicant showed “hardship,” basically arguing it could not make enough income in a smaller space and maintain affordable prices.  

After the 2014 construction was approved at 420 E. Hyman — a “second tier” commercial space was codified, which required projects to provide separate, net-leasable spaces in basement and upper-floor locations that are isolated from ground-floor spaces which could command higher rents. This variance will allow Banana Republic to use the spaces combined 7,000-square-feet.

Aspen Recreation Center Fees Increase Significantly
The Aspen Recreation Center has raised its fees significantly and changed the residency requirement for its daily admission rate to make up revenue and reduce the city’s subsidy to the facility, the Aspen Times reported. Less revenue coming in and increased costs have resulted in the city having to subsidize the ARC at more than the goal of 50% of its budget.

Starting Jan. 1, memberships and daily fees went up as much as 9% increase for this year. Other programs saw smaller increases, such as day camp and swim lessons going up 3%. The ARC also is requiring proof of residency for people who want the daily admission rate of $12, which is offered to those who reside within the urban growth boundary, including the Airport Business Center. The daily local’s rate will be given to users with a valid driver’s license showing proof of residency. Those who are unable to provide proof are subject to pay $25.50 for daily admission.

Snowmass Village

Viewline, Wildwood Have Soft Openings
After nearly eight months of renovations, the Viewline Resort Snowmass and Wildwood Snowmass hotels are in their soft opening phases, with a grand opening scheduled for February, the Aspen Times reported. Both properties closed last spring for a revamp under new ownership and initially had a target reopening date that aligned with the beginning of the ski season, but supply-chain issues and employee shortages prevented that from happening.

The hotels held off on accepting reservations, so the later opening didn’t upend travel plans for the masses who might otherwise have booked nights in the 254-room Viewline or 151-room Wildwood over the holidays. Once bookings did open up, it didn’t take long to fill those beds.

More Electric Vehicle Stations Installed
A nearly $27,000 grant from Charge Ahead Colorado helped fund three new stations in Snowmass Village that went live around the beginning of the new year, the Aspen Times reported. One of those replaces an older station in Town Park; one is at a new location in the Housing Department offices on Deerfield Drive and one is a second station at Lot 3 off of Carriage Way. It brings the total number of town-owned charging stations to four; each has two ports, so eight cars can charge at any given time.


Basalt Gets $1.2 Million in Building Permit Fees
Basalt received about $1.2 million in building permit fees in 2021, the Aspen Times reported. Revised projections on Aug. 26 anticipated the town would collect $795,588 in licenses and permits, and the number surpasses that. The town collected $696,915 from permits in 2019. That swelled to $778,069 in 2020. Several major construction projects boosted revenue over $1 million last year.

The town collected $360,210 last year from the work on the Steadman orthopedic clinic at Willits Town Center. The next biggest producer of building permit revenue was the Basalt River Park project. The first phase consisted of the restaurant space for Free Range Kitchen and five townhomes. That produced $160,693 in permit revenue for the town’s general fund.
The third largest project for fee revenue in 2021 was the first phase of Stott’s Mill, three multi-family buildings with 48 apartments. That reaped $121,206 for the town.


Proposed Trail to Redstone Draws Praise, Criticism
A proposal for a 7-mile trail from Redstone to McClure Pass would boost access to public lands but chip away at the unique character of the Crystal River Valley, according to a draft environmental assessment prepared by the U.S. Forest Service, reported by the Aspen Times.
The study by the White River National Forest and outside consultants concluded the trail for non-motorized uses would provide trail connectivity, access, and use, creating a safer way for people to travel from Redstone over McClure Pass. But there is some concern over the potential impact on wildlife and that it would attract even more users to an already popular area. The trail is part of a broader plan by Pitkin County Open Space and Trails, along with Gunnison County, to provide an 83-mile trail from Carbondale to Crested Butte.

No Mayoral Contest; Eight Vie for Three Trustee Seats
Eight candidates, including two incumbent trustees, have declared for the Carbondale Board of Trustees election in April, but the mayor’s seat will be uncontested, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported. Following current Carbondale Mayor Dan Richardson’s decision not to seek another term, six-year Trustee Ben Bohmfalk has stepped up to run for mayor. No other candidates declared for the mayor’s seat by the deadline to make the ballot.

Glenwood Springs

Glenwood Springs Sales Tax Rebounds
Glenwood Springs’ economy rebounded beyond expectations in 2021, with local sales tax collection exceeding pre-pandemic levels, the Aspen Times reported. Through November, the city collected about $20.2 million in sales tax — about $2 million more than Glenwood Springs collected throughout 2020 and about $1 million more than was collected in 2019.

Pitkin County

Commissioners Table Short-Term Rental Conversation
The Pitkin County Board of County Commissioners agreed to table a decision on the short-term rental ordinance and asked staff to come back with more information March 9, the Aspen Times reported. Pitkin County commissioners have spent a year taking public comment and working on the proposed ordinance with their staff in an effort that started out as a bid to collect sales tax on a booming, untaxed portion of the local tourist market but blossomed into a campaign focused on protecting neighborhoods from “hotel houses” and “hotelification” by out-of-town, investment property owners.

The ordinance preliminarily approved by commissioners Dec. 14 allowed only owner-occupied, primary residences to be rented out on a short-term basis on websites like Airbnb and Vrbo. Commissioners specifically decided not to limit the number of days a residence could be rented under the auspices that a primary residence would be owner-occupied a majority of the time. The maximum number of people allowed in short-term rentals would be twice the number of bedrooms plus two. However, during a commissioner meeting in January, there were so many public comments against the ordinance that four out of five commissioners decided to wait on a decision until there is more information from staff.

Pitkin County Population Barely Grew
Pitkin County’s total population only grew by 210 residents, or 1.2%, from 2010 to 2020, a state demographer told commissioners in January, the Aspen Daily News reported. While Pitkin only grew by 1.2%, neighboring counties showed significant increases. The Census placed Garfield’s population growth at 9.4% and Eagle’s at 6.8%. Within Pitkin County, there were increases within the municipalities: Aspen grew by 346 residents, Snowmass Village by 270 residents and Basalt by 136 residents. Unincorporated Pitkin County lost 542 residents, an 8% drop.

Pitkin County officials are in the process of objecting to the latest Census results based on the belief that certain areas and neighborhoods were not counted, but the formal objection process is only now getting underway. The count for Pitkin County in the 2020 Census totaled 17,358, up slightly from 2010’s 17,148. The 2000 Census recorded 14,872 residents countywide.

E-Bike Reservations May Be Implemented on Maroon Creek Road
To help address the growing safety problem on Maroon Creek Road with the dramatic increase of e-bike users, Pitkin County, the U.S. Forest Service, RFTA, the city of Aspen and other community stakeholders are discussing a variety of possible measures aimed at reducing the likelihood of a traffic incident, the Aspen Daily News reported. At the top of the list is allocating a set amount of reservation slots each day for e-bike fleets that would be based upon that rental business’ historical customer base. E-bike renters would also be required to watch a video about rider etiquette before making their reservation.

Airport Closing for Two Weeks in May

The Aspen/Pitkin County Airport will close its runway and all taxiway connectors for two weeks in May to do annual airfield maintenance and repairs, the Aspen Daily News reported. The closure will be from May 2 to May 16, and aircraft operations will be limited to emergency medevac and mountain rescue operations.

Tory Thomas
Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty
415 E Hyman Ave
Aspen, CO 81611