Real Estate in the News — July 2023

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Mark Hunt Projects Move Ahead

Mark Hunt’s M Development secured a building permit allowing it to resume construction at 434 E. Cooper Ave., home of the former Bidwell building and a future RH gallery, the Aspen Daily News reported. The Mark Hunt-controlled development company, with offices in Chicago and Aspen, secured another building permit in June that covers the redevelopment of the storied Red Onion tavern and the creation of an education facility and performance venue for Jazz Aspen Snowmass, which will neighbor the RH gallery.

It’s an estimated 14 months to complete the projects’ shell and core. Once complete, the buildout is handled by the incoming tenants. Those jobs can take up to a year or so when all goes according to plan.  The Cooper mall’s sidewalks are public right of ways that are part of the downtown core. The city’s on-season restrictions place a maximum 5-foot encroachment on the malls for private construction projects.

Superfund Site Soil Disposal Fees Increase

The county has alerted 740 property owners in Aspen’s northeast side that the fees for taking soil dug up from the 110-acre Superfund site are increasing from $15 per ton to $67.25 per ton due to a new state rule, the Aspen Daily News reported. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has determined that dirt from the Superfund site can no longer be used as cover material at the landfill. It must be buried instead. That raises expenses at the landfill, which will be passed on to the people dumping the dirt.

There are a total of 241 residences in the superfund site, ranging from multi-million-dollar mansions to affordable housing at Centennial and Hunter Creek. The new dirt rules could have a major impact on the 87-unit Smuggler Mobile Home Park and 17-unit Smuggler Run Mobile Home Park, where properties are deed-restricted but often people are replacing old trailers with stick-built homes and removing up to 800 tons of contaminated soil to do so.


Snowmass Village

New Lift Set for Snowmass Ski Area

Skiers and riders who hate strapping in just to ski from Snowmass Mall to the bottom terminal of Village Express are in luck with Aspen Skiing Co.’s announcement that it received approval from the town of Snowmass Village and the U.S. Forest Service to install a new lift that will replace the Coney Glade lift and have a bottom terminal across the slope from Snowmass Mall, the Aspen Times reported.

The new, high-speed quad will start where the old Burlingame lift was and will terminate where the current Coney Glade lift terminates. Though the new lift has no set name yet, it’s being dubbed Coneygame, a combination of Coney Glad and Burlingame. The chairlift will run 7,300 feet, moving 1,000 feet per minute. Construction is set to begin in summer 2024 and be completed in time for the 2024-2025 season.


Dallenbach Ranch Sells

An iconic ranch in the Fryingpan Valley that oozes Colorado rustic charm was sold in late May after 49 years of ownership by the Dallenbach family, the Aspen Daily News reported. Dallenbach Family Partnership sold the ranch 2 miles east of Basalt for $15.5 million to CR Land Management LLC. The 137-acre property, previously known as the Wooden Handle Ranch, was purchased by Wally and Peppy Dallenbach in 1974. The property features 15 cabins and hosts weddings and events. The new owners, who have not been publicly named, said they plan to use the ranch as a fishing retreat.

Midland Renovation Project Moving Ahead Despite Criticism

Despite significant input from the public that asked Basalt City Council to hold off on construction of the town’s Midland Avenue redevelopment project, it’s moving ahead because delaying it could increase prices by 50% and extend the project by three to five years, the Aspen Daily News reported. The multi-million-dollar project’s goals include updating aging infrastructure, bringing storefronts and sidewalks to ADA-compliance, and altering the parking layout. It was approved in a 2021 ballot measure as part of the 2020 Basalt Master Plan.



Valley Settlement Receives $2 Million Donation

Valley Settlement received a transformational $2 million donation from famed philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, the Sopris Sun reported. Valley Settlement, which provides education and mentoring programs for immigrant families throughout the Roaring Fork Valley, will use the donation to expand its programming into western Garfield County as part of its recently approved five-year strategic plan.

Founded in 2011 as a project of Carbondale-based social justice nonprofit MANAUS, Valley Settlement was created with the primary goal of listening to the needs of local immigrant families. The donation came from MacKenzie Scott — who, owing to a 4% stake in Amazon, donated over $10 billion to different organizations. The donation came at a great time, when the organization recently included expanding its services along the Western Slope as part of its goal.

Glenwood Springs

Local Contractor Selected for River Grand Residences

Local contractor RA Nelson has been selected to build the River Grand Residences at the old Rivers Restaurant location, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported. The construction company also built the Limelight Hotel in Aspen, the Carbondale Library and the Lumin Residences in Basalt. Construction is slated to begin at the end of summer 2023.

The townhomes will feature the riverside 3-bedroom and 3.5 bathroom floor plans, ranging from 1,956 to 2,627 square feet. There will be 17 units, one building of units with full views of Mount Sopris, one right along the riverside and the third building with a full rooftop balcony and two-car garage. The units also include elevators. Pre-construction pricing starts at $1.5 million up to $2.5 million.

Pitkin County

Valuation Appeals Set Record in Pitkin County

Pitkin County saw a record number of appeals of property reappraisals, while Eagle County saw a high number, but no record and Garfield County didn’t come close to a record, the Aspen Daily News reported. Pitkin County saw 4,712 appeals, which topped the 4,505 protests made in the recession-marred cycle in 2009. Pitkin County has 16,722 property accounts listed with the assessor’s office, so the appeal rate this year was 28%.

The assessor’s office made 2,279 adjustments to valuations and denied another 2,433 appeals. There are 181 hearings scheduled before hearing officers, as owners can seek a hearing if they are denied an appeal. The moment most property owners are waiting for, or potentially dreading, will arrive in early 2024 when the property tax bills are mailed for 2023. The values established this year are used in the formula to determine tax bills.

Approval Rating for County Commissioners Split

Pitkin County voters aren’t overly impressed with the direction that the county government is moving, according to results of a scientific survey, reported by the Aspen Daily News. Respondents to a survey were asked, “Generally speaking, would you say things in Pitkin County are headed in the right direction or off on the wrong track?” Slightly more than 45% said the county was going in the right direction while nearly 42% said the wrong track. Another 13% were unsure. The question was part of a broader survey that asked 300 county voters their views on a possible property tax for affordable housing and questions on the priorities for county government.

Pitkin County is dealing with several high-profile issues that have varying degrees of controversy including the potential airport expansion, a tax for affordable housing programs, and limiting house sizes.

Property Taxes Will Support Aspen School District

The Aspen School District is transitioning to a completely locally funded revenue stream for the 2023-2024 academic year because of skyrocketing property values, the Aspen Daily News reported. The district will no longer be receiving budget equalization factor dollars as property and specific ownership tax revenue is projected to account for the district’s total program funding following a 68.3% increase in assessed valuation of taxable property.

The district will still receive some revenue from the state and federal government amounting to roughly $2.6 million, which is well shy of the approximately $6.2 million last year, with $4.3 million in state equalization dollars going away. The district projects that it will collect $21.34 million in property tax revenue in 2023-24, up from $15.29 million last year. The remaining portion of the budget is set to come from vehicle sales taxes, covering a projected $618,368.

Residents Asked to Weigh in On Missing Link

Roaring Fork Valley residents are being invited to weigh in on a missing link iin the upper valley trail network, the Aspen Daily News reported. The proposed trail link would connect the Brush Creek park-and-ride and the Aspen Airport Business Center. The county is assessing the feasibility of the trail in partnership with the city of Aspen Parks and Open Space and the Elected Officials Transportation Committee.

There are two proposed alignments. Option 1 is called the Twin Bridges option because it would require building two pedestrian bridges over the Roaring Fork River to utilize the existing Rio Grande Trail. One bridge would be located near the Brush Creek lot and the other bridge would be built roughly half-way between the parking lot and AABC. The Two Bridges option is currently estimated to cost between $20.04 million and $21.79 million. Option 2 is known at the Highway 82 east alignment. No bridges would be built over Highway 82, but it would require extensive engineering elements and is estimated at $26.41 to $28.71 million.

Short-Term Rentals Banned in Remote County

Vacationers will no longer find short-term rental listings in the farthest reaches of rural Pitkin County, the Aspen Times reported. The board voted to prohibit STRs in the rural remote zone of the county. There are three properties that will be immediately affected and that have been advertising short-term rentals. For each day of operation as a short-term rental without a license, the violation would result in a $1,000 fine. If the property owners continue renting out the property(s), the county would likely seek court intervention.