Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Mountain Town News


Steamboat pays more, gets less

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo.—Last November, voters in Steamboat agreed to boost the sales tax by 0.25 percent, delivering $400,000 for an expanded direct flight program. But next year, the number of seats will decrease 11 percent. What gives?

Airline officials tell the Steamboat Today that the poor snowfall last winter resulted in fewer people flying to Steamboat, and hence greater losses. That, in turn, yields a perception of Steamboat as a riskier market for airlines, who want to limit their potential losses through increased flight revenue guarantees. Adding to the problem is increasing costs of fuel.

Last year, Steamboat had revenue guarantees of $3.57 million. This coming winter, they will edge above $4 million.

The Local Marketing District calculates it has $2 million available for flight revenue guarantees. That includes $1 million from a pre-existing 2 percent lodging tax. Intrawest, operator of the local ski hill, has committed to contributing the first $1.1 million, and has indicated it could double that amount, if necessary, reports the newspaper.

Jackson Hole adds winter direct flights

JACKSON, Wyo.—The flights options into Jackson Hole will increase this coming winter, with three new flights that will boost overall available seats by 10 percent.

The local agency that arranges flights with airlines has three new nonstop flights from San Francisco, Minneapolis and Newark. Two of the three are being induced with revenue guarantees, reports the Jackson Hole News&Guide. With the additions, Jackson Hole now has flights from 10 cities, including Denver.

Public contributions accounted for less than 10 percent of the total funds raised to post revenue guarantees, Mike Gireau, chair of the Jackson Hole Air Improvement Resources, told the newspaper.

Coalition grows in support of gondola

PARK CITY, Utah—The Park Record reports a swelling coalition in support of a gondola that would link ski areas on both sides of the Wasatch Range. The Lift Utah Coalition added 30 members to the original 20.

Carl Fisher, executive director of Save our Canyons, which opposes the gondola, says the members were predictable.

"It is exactly the type of companies and industries I expected to join the coalition," he said. "We're primarily seeing developers and people who benefit from construction and real estate development. That has always been our No. 1 concern with the project—the potential development that would ensue from SkiLink."

Real estate grows in drips and drabs

BIG SKY, Mont.—From across the Rocky Mountains come reports of quickening real estate sales and even renewed home construction.

In Bozeman, the Daily Chronicle reports that work began on more than 140 homes during the first half of the year, a pace only slightly behind the peak boom year of 2006.

More broadly, Gallatin County has had an 86 percent increase in construction of new homes, while Park County—home to Livingston, another portal to Yellowstone National Park—has had an 80 percent increase.

In Park City, the first half of 2012 yielded the highest number of sales since the corresponding period of 2006, before the housing market crash. But, as in Montana, the news from real estate offices is a tempered one.

"I feel like we're in recovery," said real estate broker Jess Reid. "That's the good news. The other side of that is that recovery is frustratingly low."

From Steamboat also comes subdued optimism. Through June, sales volume recorded through the multiple listing service was $167 million, reports Steamboat Today. That's compared with $143 million last year for the same period, but is dwarfed by the $519 million in 2007, at the height of the irrational exuberance.

Telluride revisits real estate offices

TELLURIDE, Colo.—Telluride recently revisited the issue of how much commercial space real estate and other professional offices should be allowed to occupy. In 2007, the town adopted regulations capping the space for bankers, lawyers and brokers at 21 percent of commercial space on the town's main street.

The thinking behind such regulations—adopted in Vail in the early 1970s and in other ski towns in recent years—is that a resort needs to have retail shops, bars and restaurants. There's a feeling in Telluride that there are too few shoppers, and perhaps too many real estate offices even now.

"Nobody is going to want to stay in a town that is one-third office spaces," said Bob Saunders, a councilman. "We need a business district that has places for people to go shopping."

A portion of the council, according to The Telluride Watch, decided that it was a moot point. After all, said Ann Brady, the existing limit hasn't been breached.

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