|Stewart Title economist predicts market improvements for Aspen|
Dr. Ted Jones, chief economist at Texas-based Stewart Title, cited a combination of local, state and national statistics in predicting that Aspen’s real estate market stands to gain in the near term.
Jones, speaking at the Aspen Board of Realtors luncheon in January, noted that Aspen’s visitation rates are up over past years, that Colorado’s overall housing picture is improving ahead of the rest of the country, and that the nation’s money supply is at an all time high. All of which sets the stage for stronger prices in the real estate market.
He pointed out that sales of single family homes, townhomes and condominiums have increased nationally for the last two years, signaling that the market has reached bottom.
“People have been sitting on their money for several years now,” Jones told a full house at the Aspen Meadows “Eventually, they will start spending it, and when they do, you will boom here.”
Mayor calls for end to infill incentives
Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland called for significant amendments to the city’s land use code that would set new height limits on mixed-use buildings with high-end condos. He says the units are often used as second homes and sit empty for much of the year, and “hollow out” the downtown core.
If approved, the proposal would roll back the “infill” legislation passed in pieces in 2003 through 2005. For instance, it would impose a new height cap of 28 feet for any buildings containing free-market residences in the downtown and lodging zone districts. The current limit is 47 feet.
Ireland cited the buildings on Hyman Ave. that housed the once-popular Mother Lode and Crystal Palace restaurants. Both were sold during the real estate boom. Neither has a business tenant, and the luxury penthouses in the 40-plus-foot-tall Mother Lode addition remain unsold.
Planning consult Stan Clauson, said “the free-market bashing has gone far enough.” Mixed-use buildings with a free-market residential component are an important part of local development, and many residents of those condos are contributing members of the community, he said.
Deal to save Benton Building, Little Annie’s goes to full council Downtown developer Nikos Hecht agreed to pay around $1 million in affordable housing fees and other concessions after negotiations with two City Council members over the fate of the Benton Building and Little Annie’s.
Hecht also reportedly agreed to pay a $369,000 parking mitigation, and for streetscape improvements. Hecht and his development group plan to develop a mixed-use building at the corner of Hunter and Hyman. As part of the potential deal, city officials cut the number of affordable housing units required. Hecht agreed to break the residential component in the building into two units, instead of one as proposed. He may still ask for an exemption from the 2,500-square-foot cap in city zoning, which could prove a sticking point for the full City Council.
Hydro election appears likely
Aspen City Clerk Kathryn Koch is reviewing 953 petition signatures submitted by opponents of a hydro electric plant on Castle Creek. The petition is expected to force an election to overturn the land-use approval for a Castle Creek Energy Center.
Galena Community Connection advances with council support
The newly envisioned Galena Community Connection would create pedestrian and bicycle enhancements on Galena Street to link downtown retail areas with the Galena Plaza next to the library and Rio Grande Park.
The improvements would include measures to reduce parking and traffic, wider sidewalks, more green spaces, improved bike trails, a more user-friendly plaza next the library, a new roof for the parking garage and improved natural filtration for storm water systems.
CDPE, Accredited Luxury Home Specialist
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