Happy May! The Hummingbirds are back!
Building Permit Fees with a Half-Million Dollar Mistake
A recent Aspen government audit of development review fees for residential and commercial projects in 2017 and 2018 revealed mistakes in calculation resulting in an “under-collection” of $490,000, and so now the city is trying to recoup the money from more than 150 affected building-permit holders, the Aspen Daily News reported.
The audit was conducted by the city’s engineering, community development, finance and utilities departments. The discrepancy uncovered by the audit relates to costs associated with reviewing permits for the city’s water utility. About 1,100 permits were reviewed under the December audit. It was determined that 168 permit holders owe fees, and about 5 percent of those permit holders will get a refund.
Duemani to Take Over Rustique Space
Luigi Giordani and Gretchen Leary – operators of the Main Street restaurant Acquolina – have leased the former Rustique Bistro space on Monarch Street with plans to unveil their new Italian coastal cuisine concept, Duemani, this summer, the Aspen Daily News reported. The owners said the earliest they could be open is July and the latest September.
Construction Begins on Three New Affordable Housing Projects
The beginning of construction on 45 new affordable rental units in Aspen started in mid-April, the Aspen Daily News reported. The projects are set to be complete by May of 2020 and will feature a mix of one- and two-bedroom, pet-friendly apartments at 517 Park Circle, 802 W. Main St. and 488 Castle Creek Road.
The city of Aspen bought the land for the projects in 2007. It has entered into a 15-year lease with the developers, known collectively as Aspen Housing Partners, who will oversee construction and property management during that time. The city is also contributing construction funding on a monthly basis totaling $25 million. About $9 million of that is expected to be returned once the units are occupied. All three developments will be rental-only and will not have a workforce history requirement.
Torre Voted Aspen Mayor
The sixth time was the charm for Torre, who was elected Aspen’s next mayor in an early April runoff after coming up short in five previous campaigns for the city’s top political office, the Aspen Daily News reported.
The former two-term councilman nearly matched his margin of victory from the March 5 first round of voting over Ann Mullins, who is currently in the middle of serving her second council term. The runoff election saw record turnout, thanks surely in part to the date being moved up on the calendar two months. Voters changed the date in November, moving the general municipal election from May to March.
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Base Village Boosting Sales
Market demand appears to have caught up with Base Village’s residential supply, as the existing Viceroy units are almost sold out, the new Lumin luxury condos are either sold or under contract and a pair of One Snowmass units in the not-quite-done buildings along Wood Road are ready for viewing, the Aspen Daily News reported.
Sixty-three of 65 residences that the partnership of Aspen Skiing Co., KSL Capital and East West Partners inherited from Related Cos. in their Dec. 2016, $56.5 million acquisition of the Base Village assets have been sold. Eight of the 11 for-sale units in the Limelight Snowmass, which opened in Dec. 2018, have also sold, and in the adjacent Lumin building, which sits to the left of the new hotel, two are sold and two are under due diligence. The original Base Village properties in Capital Peak and Hayden Lodge are also seeing heightened activity.
Snowmass Club Goes Fully Private, Again
When ABA Hospitality CEO Scott Brown closed on the deal in December 2018 for the Snowmass Club, he said he and the members wanted to get the club and course back to its private roots, and it didn’t take long, the Aspen Times reported. Brown said that it no longer would allow much outside play and would focus on its more than 1,100 members.
ABA Hospitality closed on the $18.5 million deal for the 212-acre Snowmass Club (including the tennis courts, a workout club and two restaurants) in December 2018. After the sale, Brown hired a design team to renovate the entire facility, and increased membership fees will help pay for it. The athletic membership that was $3,500 to join now is $20,000, and the golf membership that was $12,500 to join is $50,000.
Dorm-Style Housing for SkiCo Passes First Test
Aspen Skiing Co.’s proposal to build a dorm-style affordable-housing project in Basalt passed the first of many tests that it will face in the town government review process, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported. The project would have 36 units, including eight that would be offered as deed-restricted affordable housing with a priority for day care workers.
The remaining 26 units would go to Skico employees. They would be six-bedroom units with a smaller number of one-, two- and four-bedrooms. The largest units would have four bedrooms clustered around a kitchen-dining area and living room, with two additional bedrooms in a loft.
GarCo Says No to Storage Facilities
Carbondale-area residents won a battle against encroaching development, as the Garfield County commissioners denied applications for two self-storage facilities along state Highway 82, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported. The two proposed storage buildings were of similar size — just under 100,000 square feet and nearly 40 feet high.
One facility was planned right across from Catherine Store at the intersection of Highway 82 and County Road 100. The other was planned for the site where the Planted Earth greenhouse and nursery used to operate, about a mile east of the main entrance to Carbondale at Highways 82 and 133.
Hanging Lake Fee System Seems to Be Working
Since the reservation system to purchase a $12 permit to hike to Hanging Lake came online in April, 6,180 permits have been secured for the summer of 2019, the Aspen Daily News reported. Permits are required from May 1 and runs through Oct. 31, and visitors are required to take a shuttle or bike to the trailhead. Decreased fee permits are available the rest of the year.
The permit-and-fee system went into effect due to the explosive popularity of the 2.4-mile out-and-back hike that steeply climbs the walls of Glenwood Canyon before reaching the picturesque emerald lake. The site saw 186,000 visitors in 2018, up from about 90,000 in 2013. New guidelines call for a limit of 615 visitors daily.
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New Terrain, Overnight Huts Proposed for Aspen Mountain
Besides a new lift and more than 150 acres of new skiing terrain, Aspen Skiing Co. also is proposing several other improvements on Aspen Mountain, the Aspen Times reported. Those plans include gondola-served mountain biking, reopening Ruthie’s Restaurant to include evening food service, building overnight huts for skiers and hikers near Ruthie’s Restaurant, rebuilding and expanding Buckhorn Cabin, re-jiggering the Bell Mountain Lift and constructing a new ski patrol building.
The county’s Planning and Zoning Commission has already approved the plans, while the U.S. Forest Service approved the new lift and skiing terrain portion of the plans — known as Pandora — last month. The 4,191-foot-long Pandora lift will begin about 1,500 feet downslope of current lower Walsh’s trail boundary and end about 950 feet south and a little east of the Silver Queen Gondola’s top terminal.