Friday, November 2, 2007

Mountain Town News


Real estate high soars ever higher in Jackson Hole

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. -- Again, it's the same old story. Sales have slowed, but total dollar volume of real estate during the first 9 months of the year puts Jackson Hole on track to establish a new record. So far, sales volume is up 30 percent, despite 2 percent fewer sales.

David Viehman, owner and associate broker with Jackson Hole Real Estate and Appraisal, noted the prices for commercial properties, mostly within Jackson, the valley's only town. "The sales, he said, indicate that Jackson still has its commercial appeal, and businesses are not migrating to Teton Village, at the base of the ski area."

Those sales also show that buyers put more value in the land than in the structures on it, and that most commercial structures will likely be razed for "bigger, newer facilities."

Among single-family homes, the median sales price increased 20 percent from a year ago. Of the 153 homes currently for sale, only 9 are available for less than $1 million. Something similar occurred among condos and townhomes, were there have been 19 percent fewer sales, but median sales prices have increased 32 percent.

Aspen affordable housing not rentable at Christmas

ASPEN, Colo. -- Christmas is just around the corner, at least for those in ski towns hoping to rent their homes during the lucrative holiday week.

In Aspen, that included a resident of one deed-restricted affordable housing condominium, who was discovered offering the unit for $5,000 per week in a Web site posting. Such short-term rentals are prohibited.

Officials were chagrined by the news in Aspen and Pitkin County, where building more affordable housing remains a top priority. That effort is damaged by the perception that existing affordable housing is being abused, notes the Aspen Daily News. The Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority manages 2,700 units of both rental and for-sale housing.

The rules are that the occupant cannot own other property in the Roaring Fork Valley, must live in the unit usually nine months or more per year minimum, and work in Pitkin County.

The agency is doubling its budget for enforcement, to $450,000 per year, but operates only on complaints. "We don't do bedroom checks," said Cindy Christensen, manager of housing office operations.

Bear death total at 14 after execution of bear burglar

ASPEN, Colo. -- The number of bears killed by state wildlife biologists in the Aspen area this year is up to 14 after a bear that broke into a woman's home was finally killed.

The woman had been awakened by a noise in the kitchen of her condominium located on the outskirts of Aspen near the hospital. When she entered the kitchen, she was struck by the bear, which then fled. It had entered the condo through a closed but unlocked sliding glass door.

The bear had been seen several times since then, but always near homes, and Colorado Division of Wildlife officials said they didn't want to risk a shot.

Whistler thinks it's not quite crowded enough

SQUAMISH, B.C. -- The argument continues about whether another ski resort is needed, or wanted, in the Whistler area. Proponents of the proposed ski area called Garibaldi at Squamish, located about a half-hour west of Whistler on the road to Vancouver, project skier visits in British Columbia will rise from 6 million this year to 10.1 million by the year 2015. The report was assembled by the SE Group, a consulting company based in Park City, Utah, and Frisco, Colo.

But Intrawest, which operates the Whistler-Blackcomb ski area is skeptical. He told Pique newsmagazine that there are reasons -- such as the continuing flatness of the ski industry in North American -- to be cautious.

Whistler's largest crowd has been 27,000, short of the theoretical daily capacity of 30,000. However, the normal business is much, much less. There is no need to take the pressure off weekend and holiday periods in Whistler, says Doug Forseth, senior vice president of mountain operations. Instead, he suggests the focus of efforts in British Columbia should be to take market share from elsewhere in the world.

Kirkwood aims for a city at mountain base

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. -- Kirkwood Mountain Resort wants to expand and also building more base-area housing. Bud Klein, a founder and principal shareholder in Mountain Springs Holding Co., says he foresees 8,000 to 9,000 people at the mountain's base. But the Tahoe Daily Tribune says that a protesting environmental group called the Foothill Conservancy thinks that's way too many people, because of traffic congestion and the resort's dependency on burning diesel fuel to create electricity.

Telluride down-valley town getting some lofty real estate

NORWOOD, Colo. -- Twenty-five years ago, Norwood was about as remote as you could get in the Colorado mountains and still have your foot on pavement. Located a half-hour-drive west of Telluride, it was beyond the reach of Denver newspapers.

It was, however, very affordable, and even then was attracting refugees from Telluride. It still is -- although times, and prices, have changed. The Telluride Watch tells of a building that began life as the Oddfellows Hall now converted to other uses, including a Manhattan-style loft. The asking price for the 1,800 square feet unit is $450,000.

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