Real Estate in the News – March 2016

Pitkin County

Pitkin County Outpaces Neighbors in Real Estate Sales

The total dollar volume of all sales topped $2 billion in Pitkin County in 2015, dominated by activity in Aspen and Snowmass Village, according to the Aspen Times. That was an increase of a whopping 32.5 percent in dollar volume from 2014. 

In comparison to seven nearby mountain communities, it was the biggest increase. Eagle County, spurred by sales in Vail and Beaver Creek, was close behind at $1.99 billion for an increase of nearly 12 percent over 2014. Summit County, which includes Breckenridge, Frisco and Dillon, was a distant third with sales of $1.37 billion for strong growth of nearly 30 percent from 2014.

Routt County (Steamboat Springs), Garfield County (Glenwood Springs), San Miguel County (Telluride) and Grand County (Winter Park) were between $406 million and $700 million in sales. All posted better years in 2015 than 2014, except San Miguel County. All told, the total real estate sales volume in the seven counties was $7.47 billion in 2015. That’s an increase of 18 percent from the $6.33 billion logged in 2014.

The average single-family home price in Pitkin County was nearly $5 million compared with $1.2 million in Eagle and $856,000 in Summit. Garfield County’s average single-family home sales price last year was $388,233. The median price of single-family and multi-family residences was $1,362,500 in Pitkin County last year compared with $572,225 in Eagle County and $421,000 in Summit County.

Upvalley Towns Mull Parking Options

Staff from the city of Aspen, Pitkin County and Snowmass Village delivered a “clearinghouse of ideas” on how to combat parking challenges in the upper Roaring Fork Valley to the county commissioners, with a focus on reinventing the Brush Creek intercept and Buttermilk parking lots, the Aspen Daily News reported. 

Underutilized lots are a priority area for making improvements and shifting management policies. Four problems include underutilized parking facilities, a lack of user amenities, mobility issues at the entrance to Aspen and community parking demands for special events and construction staging. By bolstering parking options at Buttermilk and the Intercept Lot, it could alleviate some of the in-town parking issues in Aspen and Snowmass. Buttermilk has 347 paved spaces, and the Intercept Lot has 200 along with 1,500 unpaved spots. 


Retail Rent Creeps to $300 Per Square Foot at Boogie’s

The new owner of the Boogie’s building in downtown Aspen is offering space in the prime retail location for $300 per square foot, which, if commanded, could set a new gold standard for Aspen, the Aspen Daily News reported. 

The clothing store that opened 29 years ago will continue to operate on the main floor until September, according to Leonard “Boogie” Weinglass, who sold the building on East Cooper Avenue for $27.5 million in 2015 to a limited liability group controlled by New York-based Thor. 

Details on the building’s future are still vague, however. 

The company has submitted plans to significantly remodel the building, expanding commercial space on the first and second floors, while likely breaking the property up into multiple leasable units.

Sales Tax Has Strong Showing in 2015

Helped by a strong December, the city of Aspen in 2015 saw just over $666 million in total retail sales, 7 percent higher than 2014 and above the 4.3 percent increase that officials had predicted for the year, the Aspen Daily News reported. 

The lodging sector, the largest percentage of city’s sales receipts, accounted for close to $190 million, a 9 percent increase over the previous year. Marijuana and alcohol, considered one sector, had by far the largest jump at 36 percent in 2015 versus 2014, though at $18.2 million the vices accounted for just 3 percent of overall sales tax collections. Restaurants and bars, which contributed the second-highest amount to city coffers in 2015, rose 5 percent to $118 million in total sales.

Only two of 12 categories fell in 2015 compared to 2014: general retail, which made up 3.4 percent of overall sales, collected roughly $23 million, down 1 percent. The miscellaneous category, with 2.8 percent of overall taxes, fell 6 percent.

Hunt Presents Plans for Main Street Redevelopment 

After plans for a 37-room Base 2 loge where a Conoco gas station currently sits on Main Street were repealed by voters in a November election, developer Mark Hunt submitted new plans for 232 E. Main St., the Aspen Daily News reported. 

A bank or a drugstore have been mentioned as potential tenants in the future space, directly across Monarch Street from Aspen’s longstanding drug and sundries shop Carl’s Pharmacy. Drawings presented by Hunt to city council in February showed a twin-peaked roof and multiple doors opening to the sidewalk, where tables and chairs are placed. The business inside appeared to be a grocery store/restaurant hybrid. During a presentation to council, Hunt suggested that a number of mixed tenants — dictated by the market — will probably make the most economical sense. 


Sales Up in Snowmass in 2015

The holiday season proved strong for Snowmass Village’s lodges and businesses, boosting revenue for the month of December and ending the year on a positive note, the Snowmass Sun reported. Snowmass Village ended 2015 with about $180 million in sales reported, a 6.8 percent increase from the prior year. 

Snowmass’ total sales tax revenue was 1.4 percent higher than the 2015 revised budget anticipated. About half of the town’s sales tax revenue reported was collected in January, February and March, while the next strongest months were December and July.

Sales tax collections and occupancy numbers were about flat in December compared with the same month in 2014. But with a significant boost in sales reported in 2014, that doesn’t necessarily mean a weak month. December 2015 saw about $28 million in sales. Snowmass’ occupancy rate dropped by 1.9 percent in December.

Snowmass Voters to Decide on Water Treatment Plants this Spring 

Voters in Snowmass Village will decide on May 3 whether to fund a new, $20 million wastewater treatment plant through a mill levy, the Snowmass Sun reported. The Snowmass Water & Sanitation Board of Directors agreed to place a question on the spring ballot to secure a 20-year bond that would fund a new plant, which has costs now estimated at $19.8 million.

The replacement plant is required to comply with heightened requirements from the state of Colorado, which has tougher nitrogen and phosphorous discharge restrictions for treatment plants that handle over 1 million gallons of effluent per day.

Because of the recent renewal of its permit, Snowmass Village is included in the first round of plants that need to be upgraded; it’s required to be completed by 2020, which means construction must get underway by 2017 in order to hit the deadline. 

The proposed mill levy needs to generate $1.68 million per year to pay for the bond, according to the district. The estimated monthly tax impact comes out to $1.89 per $100,000 of a home’s actual value or about $22.69 per year. A home valued at $500,000 would see an annual estimated tax impact of $113.43, according to figures cited by the SWSD.


Romero Purchases Downtown Basalt Building 

A company affiliated with Snowmass Village businessman and former Aspen City Councilman Dwayne Romero purchased a commercial building at 208 Midland Ave., Basalt’s main street, the Aspen Times reported. 

TRG 208 Midland LLC purchased the building for $750,000, according to the Eagle County assessor’s website. The seller was Thomas N. Hubbard Bypass Trust, with Loretta W. Hubbard as trustee. The building was the former home of Midland Clothing, a longtime retailer that relocated to Willits Town Center.

The building is in the center of Basalt’s commercial core. The ground-floor commercial space is 1,966 square feet. An upstairs space, which can be used for residential or commercial uses, is 1,606 square feet. The sale penned out to $210 per square foot. The sale comes on the heels of Aspen Skiing Co.’s purchase in December of a building at 255 Gold River Court in Riverside Plaza. That site is along Two Rivers Road, roughly a block from the Midland Avenue building that just sold.


Sopris Lodge Plans Coming Forward

The developers behind a planned senior citizen housing and living center in Carbondale, known as Sopris Lodge, are very close to submitting a development application to the town, the Sopris Sun reported. 

Abdi Pirzadeh, president of Aspen Built Homes, and, Terry Claassen of TCC Properties, have been working with town officials to hammer out some of the pre-application details for the project, which is proposed for construction on property in Carbondale owned by the Nieslanik family. The Sopris Lodge project is envisioned as a 70-unit complex on land just north of the Rio Grande Trail and east of Fourth Street. Some of the details surrounding the project consider right-of-ways on Fourth and Second streets, and developers were working with the town to smooth those out. 

Glenwood Springs

Grand Avenue Bridge Enters Second Phase of Construction 

Multi-year construction to replace the Grand Avenue Bridge over the Colorado River started last year and is entering its second phase, the Post Independent reported. New to the project is the temporary walkway, which will be the only downtown pedestrian crossing over Interstate 70 until March 2017. With the final project, a new wider bridge with both an elevator and stair access to Seventh Street will be put in.