Entrance to Aspen Numbers
Though peak commuting times in Aspen see more vehicles than the S-curves can handle, overall traffic is improving through the notorious entrance to Aspen segment of Highway 82, the Aspen Daily News reported. Officials credit city initiatives, public transportation and the community for making 2019 the lowest year on record for vehicular traffic in and out of Aspen.
Based on traffic counters situated by Cemetery Lane every year since 1993, 2019 saw the lowest average daily count, of 21,105 trips. Compared to 2017, 2019 traffic was down 4.4%. The busiest day of the year was July 3 with 29,106 trips made in the corridor. Overall, more than 7 million vehicles came in and out of Aspen in 2019.
Aspen Is a Billionaire’s Market
Some 60 billionaires own residential or commercial property in the Aspen area, according to Aspen Appraisal’s Randy Gold and the Aspen Daily News. He estimates there are more, with the total number at around 75, making Aspen one of the most billionaire-saturated markets on the planet. Billionaires can overspend on properties, resulting in a profound impact on the commercial market that will trickle down to business owners who are tenants of these billionaire landlords.
Aspen Retail Sales Break $800 Million
Fueled by a strong December to close out the year, retailers in Aspen saw a 7.5% increase in sales over 2018, according to The Aspen Times. All told, retailers generated $818.8 million in revenue in 2019, with 10 of the 12 business sectors posting gains last year. It was the first year that Aspen retailers combined to eclipse the $800 million mark in sales.
Luxury goods, which accounted for $38.5 million in sales, had the largest year-to-year improvement of 28.1%. The construction trade saw $70.3 million in revenue, up 20.6% over 2018. Industries recording losses in 2019 were utilities and automobile, which saw their respective sales drop by 1% and 3%.
Co-Working Space Opens on Snowmass Village Mall
Newly opened Engage Coworking is a second-floor space with five small private offices, several individual “hot” desks, a conference room and kitchen, operating as a shared office for small business owners or employees who work remotely, the Aspen Times reported. It opened in January.
Town Approves Plans for Pan and Fork
Nearly 8½ years after the town of Basalt and a nonprofit organization purchased the Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park, a redevelopment plan is finally a reality, the Aspen Times reported. The Basalt Town Council voted unanimously to approve a development firm’s plan for residences, small office spaces, a restaurant and a permanent home for the Art Base community arts center. A key part of the plan also includes sale of about 1 acre of land for expansion of the downtown park along the Roaring Fork River.
The project features 24 residences of various sizes. Four will be rent-controlled affordable housing while 20 will be free market. There will be 11,500 square feet of commercial space.
The Art Base will purchase a 6,000-square-foot space for its new home. The town government will spend $1.34 million in open space funds to expand the existing park by one acre. A 3,000-square-foot restaurant with an impressive deck will meld the park into the developed portion of the site.
Basalt’s Sales Tax Up Nearly 10%
Basalt’s sales tax revenue soared 9.4% in 2019 compared with the prior year, according to The Aspen Times. Basalt collected $6.67 million last year compared with $6.09 million in 2018. The $6.67 million is a record amount of sales tax revenue for the town. That’s a big boost for the town coffers because sales taxes supply more than 60% of annual revenue.
Sales tax revenue has increased every year except one for Basalt since 2012. Retail food establishments — primarily Whole Foods and City Market — generated $2.34 million in revenue, up 3.5%. The grocery stores are the biggest contributor to Basalt’s economy.
New Breakfast and Lunch Place Opens
JC’s Breakfast and Lunch is a family-friendly restaurant with a menu that blends familiar American favorites and traditional Mexican fare, the Sopris Sun reported. It opened quietly late last year in the Sopris Shopping Center in the former Sopris Bar space. First-time restaurant owner Trino Camacho with support from his wife, Jessica Palomarez started renting the space in November and officially opened Dec. 7.
The menu at JC’s is expansive. For breakfast they offer various types of eggs benedict, waffles and pancakes, omelets and classic Mexican dishes like huevos rancheros, and breakfast burritos. For lunch, the menu spans burgers, sandwiches, and salads, and features main dishes like stuffed chicken and veggie marinara pasta. Unique menu items, include fresh juice blends, and a tres leches crepe.
I-70 Construction Begins
The Colorado Department of Transportation will be resurfacing a portion of Glenwood Canyon’s westbound lanes this spring and summer, along with other work that will replace bridge joints and bearings and add handicapped accessible curbs and ramps to the Grizzly Creek rest area, the Aspen Daily News reported. Beginning in late March, there will be a traffic shift of westbound traffic down to the eastbound driving deck, with one lane of travel in each direction. That configuration will run for between 7 and 9 miles.
Proposed Mine Would Have Disastrous Effect, Report Says
The City of Glenwood Springs released a report from the Colorado Natural Heritage Program on that concluded the proposed Mid-Continent Limestone Quarry expansion near Glenwood Springs would have widespread and long-lasting environmental impacts to the area, the Aspen Daily News reported.
If approved, the quarry’s existing 15.7 acres would be built to 321 acres. Ecologically, the mining operation could have a ripple effect on surrounding environments.
Ikon Pass to Require $150 Add-On for Aspen Next Year
In an effort to strike the balance between expanding access to ski terrain for the next generation while ensuring the slopes and the community’s facilities are not overcrowded, Aspen Skiing Co. and the Ikon Pass announced that purchasers of an Ikon Base pass will need to pay an additional $150 to get five days at SkiCo resorts and Jackson Hole in Wyoming.
The Ikon Base pass, which if purchased before April 22 will cost $699 for 2020-21. New for next season, five days at Aspen and Jackson will cost an additional $150, bringing the cost to $849 if users select that option. An Ikon pass, at $999, includes unlimited skiing at more resorts than the Base pass and seven days each at premier destinations without black-out dates. It will not require an up-charge for Aspen and Jackson Hole.
Maroon Bells Will Require Reservations in the Fall
Aspen and Pitkin County elected officials approved a pilot program that will require visitors to the Maroon Bells during the months of September and October to make a reservation for the shuttle bus that serves the scenic area, the Aspen Daily News reported. Weekends during that mid-autumn time frame have emerged as the busiest of the season at the Maroon Bells Scenic Area. The all-time daily ridership record for the bus service provided by RFTA with the support of the city, county, Forest Service and Aspen Skiing Co. was set at 3,480 one-way passengers last Sept. 28.
To address overcrowding and traffic issues a variety of initiatives will be implemented. These include beginning bus service from Highlands to the Bells at 5:30 a.m. on peak weekend days and implementing a reservation system for all bus trips seven days a week in September and October. Officials are also proposing running the Bells buses a week later, into mid-October, instead of the current end-of-season cutoff of the first weekend of the month.
Brush Creek Park and Ride to Get Upgrades
New permanent bathroom facilities with flush toilets, an increase in the number of paved parking spaces and new security lighting and landscaping are some of the proposed upgrades for the Brush Creek Park and Ride lot at the intersection of Highway 82 and Brush Creek Road. Nearly $4 million has been earmarked for the project from various entities. New paved parking spaces will replace the current area of recycled asphalt, making approximately 400 spaces at the lot paved and striped. The parking kiosk that used to be at the airport has now been relocated to the Brush Creek Park and Ride, and a new electric sign will help inform commuters and bus users about travel updates to Aspen and Snowmass.
Parking Will Be Limited for North Star Preserve Users
After a chaotic year of cars driven by users accessing the North Star Nature Preserve, officials will limit cars this summer, the Aspen Times reported. Open Space officials have proposed expanding the so-called “North Lot,” which is located 0.31 miles up Highway 82 from Stillwater, from six current spaces to 12 to help accommodate parking needs.
At Wildwood, officials also want to improve the drop-off and unloading area, eliminating most of the area where boaters now double- and triple-park their cars. Officials suggest people launch at Southgate. They also want to encourage bicycle shuttles and use of commercial boating companies to provide rides for people to North Star. Those who don’t follow the rules will be fined.