City Council Chooses to Stay in Armory Building
Aspen City Council voted 3-2 to keep government offices in their current building, putting an end to plans for a new city hall on Galena Plaza that would have gone hand-in-hand with a yet-to-be determined new public use for the historic armory, the Aspen Daily News reported.
With council members Art Daily and Ann Mullins dissenting, the council supported what only recently became staff’s preferred option: an extensive remodel of the armory at Galena Street and Hopkins Avenue and the construction of a new 28,000-square-foot building in between Galena Plaza and Rio Grande Place, where Aspen Chamber Resort Association offices are currently located.
The city is looking to consolidate offices that are currently spread about town in various leased or otherwise unsuitable locations, while upgrading spaces that are often cramped and lack adequate meeting and common-area facilities.
A group led by Bruce Etkin had been lobbying for the community center, and was urging the city to undertake a needs assessment and feasibility study that would determine how the building should be re-purposed. They have met with over 50 community groups who have expressed interest in a community center, which would also was envisioned for farmers markets, social gatherings, nonprofit meetings and numerous other ideas. The group had also pledged to raise $8 million to $10 million to remodel the building for the community center use.
Four Seasons Pulls Its Application
Developers proposing a Four Seasons hotel at the end of West Hopkins Avenue are backing away from the project, at least for now, telling the city that the time is not right for the project, the Aspen Daily News reported.
The developers, tied to the Cisneros family and Miami-based Cisneros Real Estate, were seeking to fold three parcels totaling around 6 acres between Fifth and Seventh streets along Hopkins into city limits. The application included a request to build a 181,000-square-foot luxury hotel and spa project, along with an additional 24,000 square feet of affordable housing, on land where existing development consists of two single-family homes and an outbuilding. The application referenced an intention to bring on the Four Seasons as operator.
West Hopkins has been designated as a bike- and pedestrian-only street since 1990, and is the “backbone” of local alternative transportation infrastructure. There is a current moratorium on applications in the city as it reviews its land-use code, and the temperature to annex or approve new project was cold, some say.
Aspen Ranked No. 2 By Ski Magazine
Aspen Mountain is second-best behind Whistler Blackcomb for the 2016-17 ski season, according to Ski Magazine’s top-50 resorts list. The annual rankings, which are developed via Ski Magazine reader surveys, take into account everything from a resort’s annual snowfall to on-mountain dining to the apres-ski scene. This year’s list puts Snowmass at No. 9 and Aspen Highlands at No. 14. Buttermilk did not make the top-50 cut.
Out of 16 total categories, there are only four that have anything to do with skiing and snowboarding — challenge, grooming, snow and terrain variety. Other categories take into account the total experience someone has while on a ski trip, such as lodging, service, value, on-mountain food and kid friendliness, among others.
SkiCo and East West Purchase Base Village
Aspen Skiing Co. and East West and KSL Capital acquired all assets owned by a subsidiary of Related Cos. in Snowmass’ Base Village and together will complete the project which has been stalled for eight year.
A Limelight hotel and a neighboring building to house retail with second-floor residential units will be the first projects to break ground in spring 2017. The base area property in totality would reach over 1.1 million square feet of new development, of which less than 40 percent has been built. The sale is expected to close in December for an undisclosed price, but it’s estimated the investment could easily top $500 million.
Base Village Receives All Final Approvals
Related Colorado and the town of Snowmass Village officials finalized the 10 agreements that were still outstanding following last December’s conditional approval to restart Base Village, meaning the new developer, SkiCo and East West, can move forward on completing the 1.1-million-square-foot project that’s been stalled for eight years, the Aspen Daily News reported.
Gwyn’s High Alpine Gets Extensive Remodel
An extensive remodel at Gwyn’s High Alpine Restaurant, which will expand its capacity from 350 to 800, was undertaken over the summer, according to the Aspen Daily News. The renovation includes adding a bar that’s equipped with a large wood-burning fireplace and big-screen TV’s. In the cafeteria, the mode of service will be changed to improve the diners’ access to food.
Pitkin County Commissioners Purchase Basalt Building for Long-Term Use
Pitkin County commissioners unanimously approved spending $3.3 million to buy a building in Basalt that will later house a health care center for low-income residents, the Aspen Times reported.
For the next two years, a large portion of the building, which now houses Stubbies Sports Bar and Eatery and other businesses, will serve as Pitkin County’s temporary headquarters while its main building in Aspen is renovated and added on to. The county spent about $400,000 renovating approximately 8,000 square feet of space in the building, located at 123 Emma Road, in preparation for moving a majority of county offices there.
Another Nonprofit Moves to Basalt
The Aspen Community Foundation is relocating its primary office from the Red Brick Building in Aspen to 455 Gold Rivers Ct. in Basalt, the Glenwood Post Independent reported. It is moving out a 1,500 square foot space to a 3,300-square-foot space that it purchased at the Riverside Plaza Building. A staff of 14 will relocate to Basalt although the nonprofit will maintain a smaller office at the Red Brick.
The foundation is involved in numerous programs benefiting people from Aspen to Parachute. One of its major thrusts is to promote education through its Cradle to Career Initiative. Most of the staff lives in Basalt or further downvalley, so it made sense to move the offices and save money.
Rocky Mountain Institute built an office and Innovation Center a short distance away. Roaring Fork Conservancy intends to build an office and River Center just west, or down-valley, of the institute.
Three Running for Mayor
A trio of Carbondale candidates — incumbent trustees Katrina Byars and Dan Richardson, and former trustee Ed Cortez — will be on the ballot in November, each hoping to become the town’s next mayor, the Sopris Sun reported.
The general election is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 8, and whomever is chosen by the voters will serve out the remaining time of Stacey Bernot’s term, which expires in 2018. If either Byars or Richardson is elected, that would open up her or his seat on the board of the board of trustees, which would be filled either by appointment or by a special election, whichever the board might choose. Bernot stepped down earlier this year, when she moved to Redstone.
Home Sales Steady, Prices Up
The usually busy summer home sales season in Garfield County saw some ups and downs, the Glenwood Post Independent reported. In Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, sales started off strong in June, dropped in July and picked up in August. For the year to date, though, median sales prices across the county are up, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported.
Better pricing and more availability from New Castle west to Parachute and Battlement Mesa helped boost summer sales in that portion of the county.
New Castle had the most impressive amount of sales. The number of transactions through the summer months in New Castle was about the same as last year at 50, however, that market has seen a 22 percent increase in the median sales price for a single-family home, from $323,160 through eight months of 2015, to $395,000 for the same period this year.
Prices for multifamily units, including townhouses and condominiums, have increased 27.7 percent for that same period, from $190,750 to $243,500. Individual month dollar volume was also up significantly in New Castle over the summer, including a 69.3 percent increase in the median multifamily unit sales price during July,
Delta Will Fly to Salt Lake City Again this Winter
Delta Air Lines will resume daily service between Aspen and Salt Lake City this winter, while also becoming the third carrier to fly direct from Sardy Field to Los Angeles, the Aspen Daily News reported.
In other expanding air service news, American Airlines will fly up to three times a day this winter between Dallas and Aspen, up from twice daily flights, and will begin its winter operations on Nov. 18 instead of in December. United Airlines will also begin its nonstop winter service from L.A., Chicago and Houston earlier on Nov. 30.
Snowmass Caucus Splits
Pitkin County Commissioners approved the splitting of the Snowmass/Capitol Creek (SnoCap) Caucus into two entities, hoping that by allowing the break-up they could promote healing in the long run, the Aspen Daily News reported.
Residents of the Snowmass Creek Valley decided to seek their own caucus earlier this summer after months of frustration about how the existing body was handling the drafting of a new master plan. That plan initially sought to limit new home sizes in the Snowmass Creek and Capitol Creek valleys by banning the use of transferable development rights, which can be purchased to increase allowed square footage.
SkiCo Hopes to Absorb Stay Aspen Snowmass
Aspen Skiing Co. is moving toward becoming the sole owner and operator of Stay Aspen Snowmass, a central reservations service currently owned in equal parts by SkiCo and representatives of Aspen lodges and Snowmass Village lodging properties, the Aspen Daily News reported.
Beginning in November, the Stay Aspen Snowmass (SAS) call center will physically come under SkiCo’s umbrella when it moves from its current location at the Aspen Chamber Resort Association offices to Riverside Plaza in Basalt, where SkiCo is building out new offices that include a call center serving its mountain operations and hospitality divisions.
Health Insurance Rates to Increase 35 Percent
Pitkin County residents looking for individual health insurance plans on the state’s exchange website will face average premium increases of 35 percent in 2017, with offerings from one insurance carrier instead of three. The sole remaining insurance carrier, Anthem, will also discontinue its “preferred provider organization” (PPO) plans statewide, which offer some level of coverage for any doctor. The only plans available in Pitkin County through the connectforhealthcolorado.com website will be “health maintenance organization” (HMO) plans, which limit coverage to a network of physicians and specialists.
The average monthly premium a 27-year-old Pitkin County male will pay next year for an individual “silver” health insurance plan will be $514, according to state estimates. Older individuals can expect to pay more. Final plan details will be released next month for coverage starting on Jan. 1.