Fall Parking Revenue Up
The city earned 10% more in parking fees in the month of September than in the same month last year, the Aspen Daily News reported. Just 10 days into October, the city saw a 30% increase in revenue year over year. Texas and Utah license plates dominated the tourist influx in the summer, but as fall has hit, the visitor plates are mostly registered in Colorado’s Front Range. As of Oct. 1, Aspen has reverted to typical offseason rates of $2 to $4 per hour at the meters, with free Saturdays and Sundays. The parking garage is now $2 an hour, with a maximum fee of $12.
Aspen Elected’s Approve Pay Raise
The majority of Aspen City Council agreed to give their successors more than a 50% raise, the Aspen Times reported. That translates into $1,000 more per month for council members and the mayor, who make $20,400 and $27,900 annually, respectively, plus benefits. Council members during their work session discussed their preferred amounts, with Councilman Skippy Mesirow suggesting the highest amount of between $50,000 and $60,000 for the council and 25% or 50% for the mayor, but then eventually settled on the middle ground.
Armani Comes for the Winter
Giorgio Armani will open a pop-up at 521 E. Hyman Ave. from November through the end of March, the Aspen Times reported. The winter-themed space will cover 3,350 square feet over two floors, and showcase the “world of Armani” with a selection of eveningwear and the Neve collection, accessories, including the seasonal collection of La Primabag, high jewelry, made-to-order services, Armani beauty, Armani/Casa accessories and gifts, technical EA7 skiwear, and to complete the offer there will be a special shearling version of La Prima, available in two variants: black and tan.
Short-Term Rentals to Require Business License
Aspen City Council passed new legislation that requires all property owners who rent their condos or homes on a short-term basis to have a business license and a vacation rental permit filed with the municipal government, the Aspen Times reported. Aspen joins dozens of resort communities around the country who have such systems in place, which allow the government to collect sales and lodging taxes, better track units in the overall inventory and place restrictions on them to protect quality of life for nearby residents.
The ordinance includes “condo-hotels,” which are individually owned condominium residential units governed by an association, as well as have common reservation systems, on-site, in-person management and amenities such as a pool, restaurant or ground transportation services.
Snowmass Getting Several New Restaurants
Snowmass Base Village will see a handful of new restaurants in the coming months. Most notably, the proprietor of Aspen’s popular Kenichi restaurant will open a Snowmass outpost in the base area space formerly occupied by Sake, the Aspen Daily News reported. Owner Brent Reed also owns Izakaya in Carbondale. Reed intends to fully remodel the 2,700-square-foot-space in Snowmass this winter and open the doors in June.
Aspen Skiing Co. will assume the neighboring space that housed State 38 with a pop-up restaurant this winter. A statement from Base Village said the seasonal concept will boast “a fun rotating menu of shareable dishes and classic wines.” Jus — a valley favorite that also started in Aspen and was slated to open a location in Snowmass Base Village last December — is also on track to open this winter.
Town Council Approves Purchase of Snowmass Inn
Snowmass Town Council approved an ordinance on first reading that allows the town to finance the purchase of the Snowmass Inn, the Aspen Times reported. The ordinance will authorize the town to enter into lease agreements with Zions Bancorporation to finance the Snowmass Inn purchase, which is estimated to support a 20-year mortgage of $6 million at current interest rates and with existing rental revenue.
The 39 hotel-style rooms at the Snowmass Inn are set to be 100% occupied with two people per room this winter season. Current rent for each room is $1,500 per month, which includes weekly housekeeping and utility costs and is split between the two tenants who sublease each unit, amounting to $750 per month per tenant.
Basalt Faring Better than Expected in Terms of Revenue
Basalt is doing better than expected when it comes to sales tax and revenue, thanks to new online sales tax remittance laws, bolstered retail food sales and the influx of visitors to Basalt over the summer, the Aspen Daily News reported. According to sales tax reports from the town’s third financial quarter, a number of local industries performed considerably well.
During the month of July, the town of Basalt collected over $30,000 worth of sales tax revenue on sporting retail purchases, marking a 52% increase when compared to July of 2019, which can be attributed largely to fly-fishing’s popularity during the pandemic. Retail liquor sales remained strong throughout. In July, sales tax revenue from retail liquor sales were up nearly 39% when compared to July of 2019.
The Art Base Under Contract for a Permanent Home
The Art Base, the nonprofit pinnacle of Basalt’s redeveloped Pan and Fork Property, will walk away from that plan in favor of a stand-alone building in the heart of old town, the Aspen Daily News reported. The organization is under contract to buy the Three Bears Building from Norm and Laura Clasen for $1.7 million and fundraising for the down payment has already been secured, officials announced.
Until recently, The Art Base intended to construct a new, 6,000-square-foot visual arts center on a parcel in the middle of Basalt’s River Park, a mixed-use development on the former trailer home site that in February received town approval for its two-phased construction plan. But because of time constraints and budget realities due to the pandemic, the Three Bears Building seemed like a better option.
Children’s Art Park Plans Underway
The Youth Art Park is the final park in the master plan for the Rio Grande Trail ArtWay that runs through Carbondale, the Sopris Sun reported. The master plan includes three parks in five years, two of which are already completed. For the children’s park, architectural firms worked with kids to create a vision, which will be executed using a $35,000 grant from Greater Outdoors Colorado. Officials plan to break ground in spring 2021.
Marble Mill Receives State Grant
The town of Marble received a $333,000 Resilient Communities Grant from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) to significantly improve the Marble Mill Site Park, the Sopris Sun reported.
The Gunnison County park has seen an uptick in visitation since the pandemic started, stressing the Town’s existing infrastructure and ability to host tourists safely. The grant will help alleviate crowding, provide better access to the river, create an additional park entrance and protect historic structures.
Council Aims to Help Businesses this Winter
Council voted to allow alcohol consumption in designated areas in the city and to extend the suspension of sign code regulations indefinitely in order to help businesses this winter, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported. In keeping with Gov. Jared Polis’ entreaty for municipalities to find ways to help restaurants during the winter, city staff drafted an ordinance to temporarily allow the consumption of alcohol in designated public areas.
The intention of the alcohol ordinance is to allow the establishment of communal dining areas where customers could take to-go food and drink as an alternative to inside dining. Two examples of where these areas could be set up are under the Grand Avenue Bridge or in the garden area next to the pedestrian bridge.
Student Enrollment Is Down, Despite Forecasts for the Opposite
Student enrollment is down by more than 50 students at the Aspen School District, despite a mid-summer prediction that there would be a surge, the Aspen Daily News reported. While families can register for school at any time, the actual number of students enrolled is a statistic reported on Oct. 1, when the district provides the Colorado Department of Education with a pupil count. These decreasing numbers may come as a surprise because of reports this summer that nearly 150 new students had registered in the ASD from kindergarten through 12th grade, as families relocated to the valley because of the pandemic. But these families may have chosen not to stay in the valley or kept their kids home for pod learning.
1,200 Acre Property to be Preserved Under Easement
Sunfire Ranch, a 1,240-acre property prominently located in the Crystal River Valley, will be preserved thanks to a $10 million conservation easement and restrictive covenant with Pitkin County, the Aspen Daily News reported. The owners, the Sewell family, hope to finalize the deal by the end of the year to conserve the land for the community and ranching for generations to come. The deal was completed with help from Carbondale-based land management advisory group. Resiliency Lands. Pitkin County’s Open Space and Trails fund will account for $9 million of the acquisition and the remaining $1 million will come from a Greater Outdoors Colorado grant.
Gondola-Chairlift Hybrid Approved for Lift 1
Colorado’s Passenger Tramway Safety Board approved plans for a new chairlift-gondola hybrid on Aspen’s west side in their most recent meeting, the Aspen Daily News reported. The lift, which has not yet been named but is colloquially referred to as Lift 1, will align closely with the first ski lift built on Aspen Mountain. The approved plans are for a Telemix, the hybrid lift manufactured by industry behemoth Poma, that can simultaneously run chairlifts and gondolas.
The addition of gondolas also opens the use of the westside of the mountain and its amenities to uses other than skiing. In its long-term plan for Aspen Mountain presented to Pitkin County, SkiCo suggested that Ruthies could be revamped and used as an evening restaurant or summer attraction. With their approvals in hand, SkiCo is now standing by the sidelines, awaiting the other elements of the development to take place before they can begin any work on the lift.
Third-Quarter Sales Top $1.5 Billion
Fueled mainly by residential transactions, September registered more than $660 million in property sales in Pitkin County, closing out a quarter that produced a dollar volume of more than $1.5 billion, the Aspen Times reported. It is close to the pace set the past three years ($1.9 billion in 2017; $1.8 billion in 2018 and 2019).
The pandemic largely is the underlying reason for an unprecedented demand for residential property in the Aspen area, with homes selling for more than $15 million and $20 million at an unprecedented clip. September alone netted 21 residential sales in the $10 million to $19.99 million range, in addition to four sales worth more than $20 million.
Public Health Moving into Basalt Office
Pitkin County is planning to take up the Basalt retail space that will be vacated by longtime Chinese restaurant Ho Palace when its lease expires on Feb. 28, the Aspen Daily News reported. The county needs the space as a mid valley satellite office for its expanding public health department, which has grown from nine full-time-equivalent workers prior to the onset of COVID-19 to 22 FTE workers today. Bayu Sutawijaya, manager of the restaurant, confirmed that the eatery plans to close by the end of February. He said owner Muc Ho wants to retire and return to California, his native state, after two decades of operating Ho Palace.