SThe current real estate market in Aspen has been defined as one of fewer transactions, yet the overall dollar volume has increased from 2021 year to date to 2022 year to date. That is thanks to significant sales of $30,000,000 plus properties. Even with increased inventory we have yet to see a decrease in price per square foot. What we are seeing is properties experiencing longer days on market. Those properties still trying to increase their list price at a past rate of appreciation, we are seeing numerous price reductions. One might even say the Aspen market is getting more competitive in segments where inventory is higher.
Council Approves Theatre Aspen Purchase of Isis
The Aspen City Council enthusiastically approved a purchase contract that allows Aspen Film to acquire its condominiumized units within the Isis Theatre building without the debt that is currently tied to the property, the Aspen Daily News reported. With the approval, the council also approved the termination of the existing debt and included an amendment to the property’s restrictive covenants removing the need for council oversight on naming rights inside.
The city partnered with Aspen Film and the Isis Retail Group in 2007 to preserve the Isis building, which came with the issuance of $8.4 million in debt, and the right for either party to purchase its condominiumized share of the property if it could retire the apportioned debt service tied to their units. At this point, Aspen Film will retire its $2.1 million debt on the space — the amount left over from the Isis Retail Group’s share which it retired in 2019 — and will gain ownership of its units.
Pyramid Bistro Closes
After 28 years as a restaurateur and caterer in the Roaring Fork Valley, Martin Oswald is heading home to Austria, the Aspen Daily News reported. He was the owner of Pyramid Bistro above Explore Booksellers and brought the term “nutritarian” into the Aspen lexicon. He’s heading to Vienna to be with family.
Oswald has a long and diversified culinary legacy in the Roaring Fork Valley: his departure will mean closing shop on two current establishments that he owns, Pyramid Bistro and Mix6 in The Collective Snowmass. He’s also been proprietor of Riverside Grill in Basalt and was executive chef at Syzygy and Ute City in Aspen. This year’s Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience marked Oswald’s last as JAS food director.
Aspen Club Home Purchase Comes with Short-Term Rental Permit
A $69-million purchase of the Silver Lining Ranch next to the Aspen Club included a 10-bedroom mansion, more than 6 acres and a short-term rental license, the Aspen Times reported. The 18,000-square-foot mansion was acquired by Meriwether Companies and Revere Capital, which also partnered with Fireside Investments to buy the Aspen Club property out of foreclosure for $52.59 million in January 2021.
The new owners said the rental property will “complement the revitalization of the Aspen Club. The 144,248-square-foot project is currently in development and will feature hospitality, culinary, fitness, health and wellness offerings.” The new ownership got in front of the city’s new STR regulations that took effect just four days after the purchase. Under new rules, the STR license is revoked at the time the sale closes, and the new owner must apply for a separate STR license.
Council Removes Restrictive Covenants on Restaurant Space
Aspen City Council agreed to lift a restriction on the basement space of 508 E. Cooper Ave. that required the location’s next restaurant to be open both for lunch and dinner, the Aspen Times reported. The council passed a resolution to eliminate the hours-of-operation requirement of at least 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. The resolution also removed a condition that the restaurant’s menu would be comparable to the prices at Bentley’s, but menu items will need to be priced “within the lower one-third of the average price of food, excluding alcoholic beverages, of all of the restaurants in the City of Aspen.”
The restrictive covenants were part of a settlement agreement the city reached with the Cooper Avenue building’s owners, who sued the city in 2007 after the council rejected their proposal to subdivide the property into condominium interests.
Sales Tax Collection Shows Best July in Recent Years
Snowmass Village retailers combined to generate $2.2 million in revenue in July, which translated to $247,891 in sales tax collections for the town’s general fund, the Aspen Times reported. The town’s July collections didn’t approach what it gathered in the busy tourism months of February ($508,598) and March ($567,464). Even so, it topped the previous five Julys and outpaced July 2021 ($227,047) by 9.18%. Village voters in November will decide on the proposed expansion of two taxes to include the town’s worker-housing program. Village voters in 2002 approved a 2.5% sales tax to fund town marketing efforts. The 2.4% lodging tax for group sales was approved by voters in 2005.
Home Prices Keep Increasing
Home prices keep rising in Snowmass Village while overall property sales have been on the decline in 2022 after a record-setting 2021, the Aspen Times reported. The average sales price of $6.75 million for a single-family home in Snowmass Village for the first seven months of 2022 was 15% higher than the $5.87 million average from January through July last year. Transactions in Snowmass Village — residential, commercial, agricultural, etc. — amounted to $387.9 million from January through July of this year. Snowmass Village had $894.3 million in total sales volume for all of 2021.
Brokers noted that sale prices in Snowmass have typically been a 30% discount from Aspen prices. Recently, that has been closer to 50%. Through July, the average residential price in
Town Council Consider No-Natural-Gas Roadmap
The Basalt Town Council approved an “aspirational” plan to ban natural gas service to new buildings and rely solely on renewable energy sources by 2031, the Aspen Daily News reported.
The approval of the Roadmap to Net Zero Development divided the board 4-2. Supporters hailed the move to go all-electric as a progressive step to reduce Basalt’s greenhouse gas emissions in a meaningful way. Critics feared the move could drive high housing costs even higher. Basalt has few opportunities for single-family home development left, so the multi-family home projects could potentially absorb the higher cost of electricity over natural gas.
Town Adopts “Take it Easy” Mantra
“Take it Easy” is the newest slogan for Carbondale Tourism, urging visitors to be more conscientious about their impact on the community and its surroundings, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported. Carbondale Tourism has been working for the past several months on a new responsible visitation campaign because it’s uniquely not a tourist town, but one where people live. The new campaign encourages both residents and visitors to think about the impact they have on local populations and environments.
Carbondale is becoming more of a year-round destination, riding the growing popularity of rural mountain towns all across the West. Lodging occupancy is now above 50% all year long, and proceeds from the town’s 2% lodging tax continue to go up.
Short-Term Applications Slow to Roll In
Pitkin County has seen significantly fewer applications for short-term rentals than expected, but anticipates numbers to increase as ski season nears, the Aspen Daily News reported. The county’s licensing and fee requirements kicked in Sept. 20 for unincorporated areas. As of late September, 99 applications had been submitted and 32 licenses have been issued. An estimated 200 short-term rental properties exist in rural Pitkin County, excluding Aspen and Snowmass Village. Commissioners set a maximum rental time of 120 days per year and require a minimum stay of four nights.
Snow Fencing on Independence Pass Almost Removed
Independence Pass Foundation has been plugging away since the mid-1990s on removing remnants of aluminum snow fencing that was erected by the U.S. Forest Service along the Continental Divide at the summit of Independence Pass, the Aspen Daily News reported. Clearing the fence is a decades-long project that is almost done.
The fence was part of an experimental project in the 1960s by the USFS to capture and compact snow and slow its melting to yield more water in runoff. The project was abandoned before it was completed; the ugly fence was the legacy. The foundation received permission to get the removal project rolling in the 1990s. After chipping away over the years, it was estimated in 2009 that 20 tons of metal panels and framing remained. Today, significant progress has been made thanks to backbreaking work by countless volunteers.
Aspen School District Purchases Largest Affordable Housing Unit to Date
The Aspen School District Board of Education approved the acquisition of nine new employee housing units in September, including one singular purchase that marks the district’s highest valued acquisition to date, the Aspen Daily News reported. The board approved the purchase of the Aspen Edge Condominiums building and its eight residential units, located at 1235 E. Cooper Ave., for just shy of $8 million, representing nearly 18% of the district’s allocated budget for housing acquisitions. The units will provide 14 bedrooms centrally located to downtown Aspen and along a transportation line.
Buttermilk Undergoes $23 Million Renovation
Buttermilk Ski Area will have a different look and streamlined experience for visitors this ski season after Aspen Skiing Co. completes the latest phase of its base area improvements this fall, the Aspen Daily News reported. SkiCo is centralizing all skier and rider services into a new, 9,300-square-foot building.
The $23 million project also includes a substantial remodel of the old Bumps Restaurant, now known as Buttermilk Mountain Lodge. The restaurant refinements include an expanded interior bar with lounge seating as well as a bar and grill outside to serve a patio that will be enlarged by 30%. A garage-style door will open the interior up toward the rear patio on warm weather days.
Aspen-to-Atlanta Flight Doubles Down this Winter
Starting Dec. 17, Delta Air Lines will have a second daily nonstop flight from Atlanta to Aspen, the Aspen Daily News reported. It gives Atlanta residents greater access to Aspen and opens global opportunities given Atlanta’s position as the top connecting airport in the world. It is estimated that on recent Delta trips to Aspen served by the once-a-day Atlanta flight, local travelers from the Atlanta area accounted for roughly 40% of total passengers aboard, an indication of the massive airport’s importance as a connection point.
Delta’s commitment to the second route between Atlanta and Aspen bolsters the typically robust ASE winter schedule, adding another 107 inbound (and outbound) flights to the overall mix for the 2022-23 ski season. During the holiday peak, Dec. 17 to Jan. 4, the three commercial airlines serving the local market — Delta, United, American — will offer 35-36 daily flights, down slightly, by one flight, from the last December-January holiday season.
Independence Pass Stoplights Could Become Permanent
The two stop lights controlling traffic in the Narrows sections of Independence Pass could become permanent fixtures, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation, reported by the Aspen Daily News. The lights were installed on the Pitkin County road’s two narrowest stretches last summer to avoid congestion that built up when I-70 was closed, and Highway 82 was used as an alternate route. One direction of traffic is stopped while traffic moving the other direction has a green light to proceed through the Narrows. The lights were praised by some PitCo commissioners for helping to alleviate traffic, but local residents have bemoaned the backups and experience they’ve created in a wilderness area.
New Mountain Bike Trail Increases Safety
Work has started on a new trail that will provide better access to Sky Mountain Park from Aspen and reduce the chances of collisions for mountain bikers, the Aspen Daily News reported. The existing Airline Trail will be dedicated as a downhill-only route while a new trail will be designated for climbing. The new trail will create a convenient loop for cyclists climbing to Skyline. A smaller loop will be possible by hopping off the climbing trail and onto the downhill trail about one-third of the way up the slope.