Real Estate in the News – July 2020

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Penthouse Sale Sets Records

The penthouse atop Dancing Bear Aspen sold recently for $18.3 million, or more than $6,000 per square foot, the Aspen Daily News reported.  While the square footage price is being touted as a new Aspen record — it could not be independently confirmed — what’s also notable is that the new owner bought all eight shares of the luxury downtown Aspen fractional project sight unseen and within two weeks from when the property was reintroduced to the market.

The penthouse, which in addition to its 3,000 square feet of interior space, has a 3,500-square-foot deck that spans the entire fourth floor of the Dancing Bear’s Mountainside building. It’s located on the former Chart House restaurant site.

 Saturday Market Will Operate with Rules

The Aspen Saturday Market returns this summer, with social distancing and crowd regulation in place, the Aspen Daily News reported. There are entrances and exits at Hyman Avenue and Galena Street and Hopkins Avenue and Galena Street, and 50 people are allowed on each street at a time. Staff stationed at the portals help regulate the crowds.

In compliance with Pitkin County Public Health Orders, a total of 35 vendors will offer agricultural items and fresh baked goods. Cash or credit cards will be accepted, and the market is open each Saturday until 1 p.m.

Wheeler Opera House to Get a Facelift

Anticipating that there will be no live performances at the Wheeler Opera House for the rest of the year due to COVID-19 concerns, it will receive a high-impact exterior masonry project instead, the Aspen Times reported. The project was scheduled to begin in the spring of 2021, with multiple closures over multiple years.

The sandstone is cracking, and bricks are being displaced on the facade of the historically designated 130-year-old building, which requires specialty masonry contractors for restoration. Because the work will be visually and audibly impactful with lots of dust, the significant aspects of the project will begin in late August or early September to give businesses and restaurants a break from the work during the summer season.

Snowmass Village

Lost Forest Opens with Restrictions

Because of the pandemic there will be new ways of doing business and enjoying the Lost Forest this summer, the Aspen Daily News reported. The Lost Forest’s attractions continue daily through Sept. 7 with regulations in place, which include employees in face coverings, socially distanced parties on the gondola and increased cleaning for all rides and attractions, like the climbing wall and alpine coaster.

Taster’s Expands in Snowmass Village

The owner of the popular Italian food eatery, Taster’s, that has had the corner spot in the center for the past 19 years is planning to take over an additional 1,300 square feet in the space that was home to another locals’ hangout for Snowmass residents, The Village Tavern, the Aspen Times reported. The Tavern, formerly the Mountain Bayou among other eateries through the years, will not reopen.

We-Cycle Launches in Snowmass Village

WE-cycle re-launched its bike-sharing program throughout the valley, with a new presence in Snowmass Village, the Aspen Times reported. Two docking stations were installed in Snowmass, with one located near the Club Commons complex and the other at Town Park. The locations are strategically placed so the 15 available bikes can be used for commuting to Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus stations. The 234 bikes in the WE-cycle fleet will be available throughout Aspen, Snowmass Village, Basalt, the Willits area and El Jebel.


Swinging Bridge Connects More Parking to Downtown

Downtown Basalt will get a new pedestrian connector trail this summer in an effort to alleviate some of the congested parking that the town’s Midland Avenue is experiencing, the Aspen Daily News reported. In just two months, the project is moving forward, connecting the underutilized Basalt Elementary School parking lot with a downtown. The new “urban trail connection,” which spans 420 linear feet takes about two minutes to travel on foot, and crosses a swinging bridge.

Basalt Could See More Affordable Housing

A 75-unit affordable housing project for Willits Bend proposed by Archdiocesan Housing Inc., an affiliate of Catholic Charities, is being reviewed by Eagle County, the Aspen Daily News reported. The county on June 1 lifted its development moratorium. That has allowed planning and review of the proposed rental housing project — which would be located midway between downtown Basalt and Willits Town Center — to continue.

An amendment to Willits Bend’s 2006 planned unit development is sought to accommodate Archdiocesan Housing’s proposal. The 75 units of housing, located near the intersection of Willits and Widget lanes, would have as their neighbors the three existing Willits Bend buildings, Aspen Skiing Co.’s tiny homes and Umbrella Roofing.

The Contemporary Breaks Ground

The Arts Campus at Willits broke ground in late June in pursuit of a goal that was set nearly 20 years ago, the Aspen Times reported. Grading and other work started on a performing arts center that will be completed in spring 2021. The arts center is being constructed in Willits Town Center, along Willits Lane. The town of Basalt granted a long-term lease for the site.

The center is called The Contemporary. It will be a sustainable, all-electric, energy-efficient building with a multi-purpose theater seating 275 or 400 standing. The facility also will have a community room for civic and educational events, co-workspace for arts and culture uses, catering kitchen for event support and outdoor performance space. TACAW has raised $3.5 million so far and the nonprofit organization has financing available through the Colorado Educational and Cultural Facilities Authority and Alpine Bank, if needed. It is aiming to raise $5.8 million for the project.

Basalt to Get Upgraded Hiking Trail

Basalt will gain a hiking trail by fall that will take pressure off the popular Arbaney Kittle route, the Aspen Times reported. The Bureau of Land Management approved the relocation of a trail up Light Hill from a trailhead behind Basalt High School. There is an existing trail, but it heads straight up a fall line and is rutted up to 4 feet deep in spots. A new trail approximately 1.2 miles long will be built.


Dining, Retail Expand into the Street

The town of Carbondale opened its streets and parking areas for expanded outdoor commerce in order to meet social distancing requirements and occupancy limitations, the Aspen Daily News reported. From Main Street between Third and Fourth streets turned into a one way with traffic heading eastbound. Also, Main Street, between Third and Fourth streets, is closed entirely from 5-9 p.m. every Friday and Saturday night for the foreseeable future.

Building Warehouse May Come to Carbondale

Builders FirstSource received its first pass from planning and zoning to build a lumber yard showroom, an office building and a warehouse, the Sopris Sun reported. Presently, the company has two lumber facilities in the area — Glenwood Springs and Aspen — and a Basalt showroom. Builders plans to consolidate operations in Carbondale. The total size of the building encompasses 29,240 square feet with three components: a 3,240 square foot showroom for building materials, a 9,000 square foot office/retail building and a 17,000 square foot warehouse.

Glenwood Springs

Canyon Project on Track

The eight-month-long Glenwood Canyon Surface Improvements project is on schedule, but CDOT is asking motorists to continue to drive slowly in the cone zone and where the head-to-head detour remains in place, the Aspen Daily News reported. In June, the westbound on-ramp from the Grizzly Creek rest area to I-70 was reopened. The canyon’s head-to-head detour remains in effect Mondays through Thursdays, and Fridays until 1 p.m.

On Fridays and continuing throughout the weekends, westbound traffic will be routed to a single lane on the westbound deck and eastbound traffic will be routed through a single lane on the eastbound deck. The project is anticipated for completion in October 2020.

Amtrak Decreases Daily Service

Amtrak’s California Zephyr daily service to Glenwood Springs will be reduced to three times a week starting Oct. 1, the Aspen Times reported. Because of COVID-19’s long-term impact on ridership, Amtrak is adjusting its northeast corridor and state-supported services as well as reducing its long-distance train services. Running from Chicago to San Francisco, the California Zephyr line brings thousands of visitors to Glenwood Springs each year and is the primary means of transport for the city’s thriving Amish tourism sector, which does not use modern modes of travel.

Pitkin County

Skier Numbers Down 20%

COVID-19 put a hard stop to a ski season that began with tremendous promise, and the March 15 closure of Aspen’s four ski areas accounted for at least a 20% loss in business over last year, the Aspen Daily News reported. That is higher than the average 14% decline reported by the National Ski Areas Association of its 470 U.S. member resorts, but in line with the percentage drop felt by some comparable destination resorts.

There were 1.156 million tickets sold in Aspen-Snowmass’ pandemic-shortened season. In 2018-19, which shattered a 21-year record, the local resorts accounted for 1.455 million skier days. NSAA reported that the 14 percent drop in skier visits for the 2019-20 season, to 51.1 million, could be responsible for losses industrywide of between $2-5 billion.

Public Lands Use Explodes

As people were told to recreate close to home this spring, the number of users on public lands significantly increased, and so did enforcement, the Aspen Times reported. The number of enforcement contacts — in which rangers had to remind people of the rules through a simple conversation, a warning, or a ticket — exploded in the spring, especially in May. From March 1 through the end of May, rangers had an enforcement contact with 385 trail users. Over the same period last year, rangers had contact with only 52 people.

In May, rangers lectured 146 people before they violated a rule and warned 51 users either verbally or on paper. But sometimes a rule violation leads to a ticket — last month, 15 people received a penalty assessment. In May 2019, only two tickets were handed out.

North Star Management Plan Approved

Pitkin County commissioners unanimously approved a new management plan for the North Star Nature Preserve that updates and tightens the rules for the popular float area east of Aspen, the Aspen Times reported. Much of the controversy surrounding the booming popularity of boating and paddle boarding the preserve relates to parking, which appears to be improving thanks to new signs provided by the Colorado Department of Transportation directing where people can and cannot park.

However, other changes will include making most of the float a quiet zone — previously the quiet zone was only around an area where herons lived — the installation of a portable bathroom at the Wildwood put-in and increased enforcement that already includes issuing tickets to violators.