Real Estate in the News – September 2018


City Office Space Purchase to Go to Voters

Aspen City Council will postpone making a choice between two options for new government offices, setting a course to have voters decide the initiative’s fate, the Aspen Daily News reported. The city is currently in negotiations with Mark Hunt, a developer who owns 517 E. Hopkins Ave. and the adjoining building, which the city is eyeing for 27,000 square feet of potential office space for $32.5 million.

That deal emerged as an alternative to a plan approved by council in 2017 for a 37,000-square-foot new office building on the north side of Main Street abutting the parking garage and Galena Plaza, a project that is estimated to cost $22.5 million to build. That option is tied up in litigation brought by citizens seeking a public vote on the project. Both options entail a remodel of the armory, which will remain the seat of city government. For the city to proceed with the vote, the plaintiffs in the lawsuits must agree to drop their cases.

Smuggler Racquet Club Chooses Sunrise to Develop

Members of the Smuggler Racquet Club have reached an agreement with Sunrise Co. for development of the 45-year-old club that sits on 6 acres of prime real estate in east Aspen, the Aspen Daily News reported. The agreement precedes what will be a formal purchase contract to the SRC for about $15.5 million.

The Sunrise offer envisions approximately 23 employee housing and 18 free market units, for a total of more than 75,000 square feet of development. The Aspen-based developer would also help the Smuggler Racquet Club members through the city review process to redevelop their club site and facility, which today features a modest clubhouse and outdoor tennis courts. Members have indicated a desire for two indoor courts, possibly a place for pickle ball, and an approximately 2,200-square-foot replacement clubhouse facility.

Sunrise was selected through a vote of the club’s members on Aug. 16 during its annual meeting. The racquet club, which was founded in the 1970s and has prided itself on a low-key atmosphere, has about 120 members.

Rustique, The Cottage & Cooking School Up for Sale

Veteran restaurateur Rob Ittner is selling his three businesses, Rustique, The Cooking School of Aspen, and The Cottage, the Aspen Times reported. Through broker Angi Wang of the commercial real estate firm Setterfield & Bright, Ittner is asking $685,000, which would entitle the new owner to the three businesses’ assets and leases, which all have 13 years remaining on them Ittner.

While the three businesses are being marketed as one package, Ittner, a former Pitkin County commissioner who is running to unseat incumbent Commissioner Patti Clapper in the November elections, said he would be open to selling them individually.


Limelight Hotel Snowmass Will Open in Early January

After an ambitious, 18-month schedule to complete a 99-room hotel with 11 private residences, a restaurant, spa, climbing wall and conference space, the Limelight Hotel in Snowmass Base Village will open its guest rooms in early 2019, the Aspen Daily News reported. The Limelight Hotel in Snowmass Base Village is currently accepting reservations from Jan. 4, 2019, onward.

The approximately 100,000-square-foot hotel’s grand opening, however, will be celebrated in a public party on Dec. 15, along with the rest of this phase of Base Village. This is the third Limelight after the acquisition of the former Limelite Lodge in downtown Aspen by Aspen Skiing Co., which renamed it the Limelight Hotel and reopened the property in 2012. Following on that success, SkiCo developed and opened the Limelight Ketchum (near Sun Valley) in 2017.

Snowmass Sets Record Occupancy for July

Snowmass Village recorded a record month for paid occupancy in July, as 70.4 percent of its beds were filled, according to a report issued by the reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass.  The news from Aspen for July was better than anticipated, with a 3.2 percent dip compared to last year, and overall monthly occupancy at 80.2 percent. Combined, the two resorts were dead even with July 2017, at 76.1 percent occupancy for the month. Aspen finished July at 80.2 percent, which is lower than the past three July’s.


River Center Opens in Basalt

The Roaring Fork Conservancy officially opened its new River Center in Basalt. The center is dedicated to watershed health, research, preservation and education, the Aspen Daily News reported. The conservancy was established 22 years ago by the Roaring Fork Club and the town of Basalt to promote water conservation and the protection of the Roaring Fork watershed.


Six Lots for Sale Downtown

Carbondale’s historic downtown area is up for sale—sort of—the Sopris Sun reported. Six lots recently and simultaneously were added to Aspen-based realtor Karen Toth’s listings, and one is already under contract. That’s the 6,900-square-foot lot at 190 Main St. next to KDNK. All of the properties are undeveloped, meaning that over the next several years, the face of downtown could change quite a bit. The largest parcel for sale — a little more than 2.5 acres listed for more than $6.8 million — surrounds the Thunder River Theatre Company building, which is ripe for redevelopment.

Glenwood Springs

Retail Sizzles with Temps

Glenwood Springs endured a scorching summer, temperature wise, and the city has also enjoyed a hot season financially speaking, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported.

Out of Glenwood’s 15 retail categories ranging from miscellaneous retail to marijuana, only three took a dip.

During the month of June alone, Glenwood collected $1,824,148 in sales tax, which equates to a 5.14 percent increase, or $89,147 more than what was collected in June of 2017. And, through half of 2018, the city has collected nearly $8.5 million in sales taxes, reflecting nearly $229 million in total retail sales for the year.

Pitkin County

Property Tax Question to Be on November Ballot

Pitkin County commissioners officially approved ballot language for the Nov. 6 election aimed at renewing and increasing the property tax that supports the county’s Healthy Community Fund, which assists local health and social-service programs, the Aspen Daily News reported. If approved by county voters, the tax would remain in place for nine years instead of the shorter periods for which it has been approved previously. The tax rate would be set at .993 mills, generating an estimated $3.08 million annually.

At recent work sessions on the issue, county human services department officials explained that rising community needs require an extra $750,000 to support the fund. That amounts to 32 percent above the $2.3 million in revenue the tax is expected to generate in 2018.

In terms of actual cost to the taxpayer, the increase would be $1.74 per $100,000 in residential value, for a total of $7.15. On a home valued at $500,000, the annual bill would be an estimated $35.75.

Sales in Aspen Flat While Snowmass Continues to Climb

Real estate sales in Aspen have been slower in 2018 than last year, while Snowmass Village activity continues to receive a boost from the vertical construction in Base Village, the Aspen Daily News reported, according to a report provided by Andrew Ernemann, broker associate for Aspen Sotheby’s International.

To date in 2018, prices for single family homes and condos are tracking flat in both Aspen and Snowmass, though there are small neighborhood fluctuations. In Aspen, the average sales price of a single-family home is currently $7.34 million. The average sales to list price is 92 percent. Fifteen single-family homes have sold this year compared to 93 in all of 2017.

The average sales price of an Aspen condominium in 2018 is $3.55 million, with 95 percent average sales to list price. This year there have been 36 sales compared to 163 for all of last year. In Snowmass Village, the average single-family home sales price is $2.73 million with 91 percent average sales to list price. Fourteen have sold this year compared to 41 homes last year.

RFTA Tax Questions Moves to Ballot

RFTA’s board of directors’ board voted unanimously to seek a property tax of 2.65 mill levy that is projected to raise in excess of $9 million in the first year it is implemented, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported. The extra revenue will allow RFTA to add service to the regional bus system, replace buses, improve bus stations and tackle numerous projects from Aspen to New Castle. The tax is being touted as a way to relieve traffic congestion and boost mobility over the next 20 years.