Friends of the Dillon Ranger District, the nonprofit organization supporting the local White River National Forest ranger station, hosts another conversation as part of its winter speaking series on Wednesday, March 8, this on the subject of water resource management.
Denver Water and other western water utilities face major challenges in managing our water resources. Climate change, growth and complex interstate dependencies are creating an uncertain future for maintaining sustainable, resilient water supplies for our communities.
During the "21st Century Challenges of Water Resource Management" dialogue, Denver Water will share strategies in place to ensure our water future. A special presentation by Troy Wineland, Summit County's water commissioner, will follow, and all are welcome.
Join the conversation in the Buffalo Mountain Room at the Summit County Commons in Frisco, 37 Peak One Dr., from 6:30-7:45 p.m. For more information, visit fdrd.com, or call (970) 262-3449.
2:30 p.m., 6th Alley Bar, Arapahoe Basin, 28194 U.S. Highway 6. Big Onion is Frisco's home grown funk, blues and rock band. Apres ski concert. No cover.
THE SWING CREW
Keystone, Feb. 26
3 p.m. (Feb. 24 & 25), 2 p.m. (Feb. 26), The Last Lift Bar, 1195 Keystone Road. The Swing Crew has been playing the apres ski concert for years. No cover.
A NIGHT ON THE RED CARPET
Breckenridge, Feb. 26
5:45 p.m., The Speakeasy Movie Theatre, 103 S. Harris St. Walk the Red Carpet and enjoy hors d'oeuvres and beverages with the Breckenridge Film Festival as we celebrate Hollywood's premiere awards night of the year. Red carpet attire is encouraged. (970) 453-7243.
Haunted Tour of Breckenrdige
Breckenridge, Feb. 26
7:30 p.m., Breckenridge Welcome Center, 203 S. Main St. Late evening stroll through Breckenridge's haunted historic district. Hear eerie and unexplained stories from the past and visit one of town's oldest homes believed by many to be haunted. $15/adult, $10/child. Reservations required at BreckHeritage.com or (970) 453-9767.
THE MAGIC BEANS
Frisco, Feb. 26
9 p.m., The Barkley Ballroom, 610 Main St. A Denver-based band that leaves nothing off the table as they combine americana, funk, rock and electronica into a one sound. Tickets are $10.
A proposal for a six-story hotel and residential development at the entrance of Dillon is nearing its final hurdle, requiring only the authorization of the town council to go forward after being approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission in December.
The project — consisting of 83 hotel rooms, 23 residential units, a conference center and rooftop restaurant and lounge — is framed by the developer and town staff as part of a push to revitalize Dillon and draw more traffic into its core, which has struggled to retain and attract businesses for years.
The development, called the Crossroads at Lake Dillon, would stand at the corner of Highway 6 and Lake Dillon Drive on a high point overlooking the lake, replacing a gas station that has stood there since 1998.
"A lot of people don't even know where Dillon is," said Danny Eilts, who owns the gas station and started putting the proposal together four year ago. "The idea is to put something nice at the entrance and pull people down into Dillon."
The project is intended to cater to the high-end market and would include two penthouses on the upper level below the rooftop restaurant, which would be open to the public. Of the 23 residential units, three would be reserved for hotel employees.
KICKING UP DIRT
New construction in Dillon has been sluggish for decades. The last major project in the town-core area was the Dillon Commons building, completed nearly 20 years ago.
Crossroads would be part of a potential flurry of building activity along Lake Dillon Drive. The owner of the adjacent Adriano's Bistro Italian restaurant, Ivano Ottoborgo, has received approval for a 65-unit residential complex and street-level commercial spaces. (Ottoborgo and Eilts intially planned to do a joint project but have since decided to develop separately).
And this summer, work will begin on a major overhaul of the Dillon Amphitheatre, which is intended to boost the venue's capacity and attract bigger acts.
"Dillon is a sleeper in Summit County," Eilts said. "They just haven't had anything going on in a while. My feeling is this would be huge for the town and would put Dillon back on the map."
The town has enjoyed some recent development in the Dillon Ridge Road area, most notably with a new REI slated to open this spring. But that area of town is effectively a separate enclave, with Highway 6 separating it from the core area tucked away near the lakeshore.
The current town council has made developing that area one of its biggest priorities, commissioning several studies to game out ways to elevate the town's brand and attract investment.
"The council is motivated to support development, and I think the community is realizing that doing nothing was causing the town to fall behind," said Dillon spokeswoman Kerstin Anderson. "There's a recognition that something needs to happen in the core area."
Those efforts have at times faced resistance from some residents, particularly in the case of the amphitheater remodel. That project drew criticism for its scale and design, which some thought to be too modern.
Town staff and council members, however, have argued in meetings that simply doing nothing to stoke interest in the core area has caused it to languish.
During a public hearing for the Crossroads plan Tuesday night, some residents expressed concern over the height of the project, which at nearly 90 feet is more than double the 40 feet allowed under the town code.
Eilts is seeking an exemption, saying that he wants to take full advantage of the property's high vantage point and provide the best views of Lake Dillon and the surrounding mountains.
"I can understand the concerns, but it's time to put Dillon on the map," he said. "The views on top of the property, the highest point in town, will be incredible: Keystone, Breckenridge, the Tenmile Range, 360 degrees."
OUT WITH THE OLD
A vote on the resolution approving the project was pushed to the next meeting, on Feb. 21, because only four of the town's seven council members were present on Tuesday.
At the meeting, members expressed concerns over the proposal's allotment of parking spaces and have asked Eilts to look for ways to add more.
If the resolution is approved, Eilts would purchase the land adjacent to the gas station from the town, where two historic structures currently stand, although neither has an official historical designation.
The Old Dillon Town Hall, currently leased from the town by the High Country Conservation Center, would likely be demolished.
Sandie Mather, president of the Summit Historical Society, said the group was not interested in trying to save the building because it has been modified so many times that it only loosely resembles its original state.
The Rebekah Lodge, on the other hand, has changed only slightly since it was originally built in 1882 as Frisco's Graff Opera House. It was moved to Old Dillon in 1887 and again to its current location in 1961.
"It's 135 years old and has quite a history. It's the only opera house that I know of in the county," Mather said. "We have had very preliminary talks with Danny (Eilts) and he said he would very much like to see it preserved."
Saving the building would hinge on how expensive it would be to move it. Mather said she is currently working on getting a cost estimate and scouting for potential locations.
Real estate revenue and sales faltered at the end of 2016 following a year of lowering inventory.
Sales last December saw a vast drop from those that happened at the same time in 2015. This year, 200 sales were made compared to 270 in 2015. Revenue came in at nearly $119 million, but was still a little more than $14 million behind December of 2015. The end of the year is not typically a booming market for real estate, as some people looking to sell take their houses off the market in the hopes of getting a better deal renting. However, in 2015, December was the third highest month in both revenue and sales. December did see a higher amount of sales that hit over $1 million. In 2015, there were 17 million-dollar sales in December; 2016 had an additional three.
Dennis Clauer, owner and broker at Real Estate of the Summit Inc., said that the sharp decrease in sales was due to the small amount of inventory that Summit County had seen during all of 2016.
"Inventory continues to be at historic lows," he said.
He added that the lower amount of inventory is impacting buyers being able to find a home that fits their needs.
Lack of inventory has also had a drastic impact on the average sale price in Summit. Between January 2012 and this year, the average price of a single family home has jumped up 68 percent, Clauer said. Single-family homes in the county are sitting at an average sale price of more than $1.1 million. For condos, there was a similar jump in the average sale price, which went up 41 percent.
The rise in prices is also dependent on the area the property is found in. The top sale was for $3.885 million in the Shock Hill neighborhood. The home is just under 4,800 square feet, which Beverly Breakstone, the county assessor, said was a smaller home for the area. The price tag indicates that the neighborhood still has a high value. A property at Yingling and Mickels in Breckenridge sold for $2.3 million. The property is 1,316 square feet.
"That's not much square footage for a lot of money," Breakstone said.
She added that it was a remodeled property in the Downtown Historic district, which is also a highly valued area.
Eddie O'Brien, of O'Brien & Associates Real Estate Inc., said that there's some new developments on the horizon in Summit. Projects like Angler Mountain are nearing completion. Many of the units in those projects sell before construction is completed. O'Brien added that current developments like the new townhomes in Keystone are not helping with demand for condos.
"There's certainly a demand, but you can't measure it because the demand can't be fulfilled," he said.
Clauer said the number of condo sales jumped 161 percent between 2012 and 2017. Condo demand is coming from the usual suspects — skiers looking for a spot close to resorts, and locals hoping to find a permanent home — but O'Brien said that investors are also entering the market, looking for options to rent out on Airbnb or VRBO.
"The guy that's buying a condo and not renting it out is pretty rare," he said.
TOP FIVE: DECEMBER
1. $3,885,000 — Breckenridge, Lot 21 Shock Hill (residential home)
2. $3,850,000 — Breckenridge, Lot 21 Westridge Sub (residential home)
3, $2,350,000 — Breckenridge, Lot 7B Shock Hill Overlook #1 (residential home)
4. $2,300,000 — Breckenridge, Lot 1 Block 1 Yingling and Mickels (residential home)
5. $2,237,500 — Breckenridge, Lot 7A Shock Hill Overlook #1 (residential home)
Heavy snowfall across the western mountain region has benefitted lodging community revenues. DestiMetrics, a Denver-based resort analytics firm, released lodging numbers from more than 290 properties across Colorado, Utah, California, Wyoming, Nevada, Oregon and Montana. Revenue from November to April is up 8.7 percent from the same time last year, and occupancy is up just over 1 percent.
Both January and March saw a slight decrease in bookings. The booking pace for April rose nearly 50 percent.
DestiMetrics said in a release that consumer confidence in January was at a 15-year high, which also contributed to the rise in sales.
Vail Resorts (owner of Breckenridge Ski Resort) on Tuesday announced that last Friday, it entered an agreement to acquire Stowe Mountain Resort from Mt. Mansfield Company, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of American International Group, Inc., for a purchase price of $50 million.
Stowe Mountain Resort will be Vail Resorts' first mountain resort on the East Coast and adds to the company's network of 10 mountain resorts and three urban ski areas.
Vail Resorts is acquiring all of the assets related to the mountain operations of the resort, including base area skier services (food and beverage, retail and rental, lift ticket offices and ski and snowboard school facilities) at Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak. Other facilities such as the Stowe Mountain Lodge, Stowe Mountain Club, Stowe Country Club and some real estate will be retained by Mt. Mansfield Company.
"We're thrilled to add Stowe Mountain Resort to our family of world-class mountain resorts. With the investments in both mountain infrastructure and base area facilities that AIG has made over the years, Stowe Mountain Resort has become the premier, high-end resort for East Coast skiers and snowboarders. We look forward to working with AIG to continue enhancing the guest experience and to ensure the resort's long-term success," said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts.
Douglas Tymins, president and chief executive officer of AIG Global Real Estate, said, "Under Vail Resorts' management, Stowe's reputation as a premier ski destination with a commitment to excellent service will continue to grow. AIGGRE is looking forward to combining Vail Resorts' tremendous mountain operations capabilities with our continued commitment to the development of the Spruce Peak community."
Stowe Mountain Resort is expected to generate incremental annual EBITDA in excess of $5 million in Vail Resorts' fiscal year ending July 31, 2018.
Operations at the resort for the remainder of the 2016-17 ski season will continue in the ordinary course as will future summer and winter seasonal hiring. Vail Resorts said it will be retaining the vast majority of the resort's year-round staff.
Vail Resorts will integrate Stowe Mountain Resort into its Epic Pass and other season pass products for the 2017-18 winter season, subject to the closing. With the Epic Pass, skiers and snowboarders will have unlimited access at Stowe as well as Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado; Park City in Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in Tahoe; and Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada.
The outcomes of a handful of lucrative property-tax appeals in Summit County came back late last month, with the county assessor’s office mostly prevailing, though several more similar petitions have already been submitted for review.
Recognizing this stark difference in land fees, and the opportunity for interpretive debate, the Denver office of financial services firm Duff & Phelps solicited 1,500 Colorado residents to file claims. Of that number, 170 clients initially surfaced across counties like Boulder, Eagle, Pitkin and Routt, including seven in Summit, and 10 more requesting evaluation with still others in processing. Duff & Phelps said it sent between 80-100 letters within the county, so more state hearings could be in the works.
“Our potential is great, but I think we only have like 50 at the moment,” said County Assessor Beverly Breakstone. “But we feel great. We feel we did a very good job presenting our case and making our point. It just so happens these hearing officers agreed with us, that they, in most of these cases, agreed that the residential use is not there.”
Summit’s cases stretched over the entire county, from Keystone Ranch to Angler Mountain, Bill’s Ranch near Frisco, Baldy Mountain in Breckenridge and the Willowbrook Subdivision in Silverthorne. Those hearings — the very first of the bunch — were of particular importance to assessor offices throughout the state as well as Duff & Phelps because of the standard they could set for those counties to follow facing down appeals. Eagle completed its hearings this past Friday and Boulder and La Plata are up next.
The question in each case, both in Summit and elsewhere, is whether parcels of land adjacent to a residence — all with a vacant classification — also meet the definitions that would grant the reduced property-tax burden. As an example, the difference in fees per designation on a $400,000 property, say, in Breckenridge, is about $4,500 a year. Multiply that by 10 years and numerous parcels and it equals the loss of approaching $5 million for county coffers that help pay for public services like schools, emergency response and snow plowing.
According to statute, land needs to be contiguous to the residential plot and be of common ownership, in addition to clearly being used in conjunction with the main property, to be classified residential. Whether the nearby land would be conveyed in a future sale is another factor taken into consideration.
“Depending on how valuable the property, it’s definitely worth a lot of money,” said Frank Celico, an assistant attorney in Summit, and lead counsel on the assessor appeals. “We’re really happy with the decisions. Until someone tells us otherwise, we feel our arguments are strong.”
In the lone case the county lost upon BAA appeal, Breakstone said the property presented in the hearing was different than the one that had previously been reviewed and found not to qualify as residential. The county has since resolved not to appeal the case to the Colorado Court of Appeals, as the facts of the case changed and may not have led to a denial in the first place.
“We call that one ‘foul ball,’” said Breakstone. “We just decided that we’re going to give the man his money and move on.”
Were the county to lose in future petitions, despite strong standing after favorable verdicts in those so far, the assessor contended the county would request legal hearings in the court system. The other initial six cases, as well as those to follow, could still wind up with the court of appeals.
Reached by email, Denver-based litigation attorney F. Brittin Clayton, of Ryley Carlock & Applewhite, who is representing Duff & Phelps in the matter, offered little comment. “We are evaluating our options,” he wrote.
The county assessor plans to review the next set of properties once the winter weather subsides and will continue applying the residential description the county has used for decades — the same one with which the BAA concurred last month.
“As soon as the snow melts,” said Breakstone, “we’ll inspect every single one of them and see if they do have the criteria that makes them residential. The ones that are, we will make residential, and the ones that are not we will deny.”
The Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District (RWB) will be hosting two jobs forums this month to provide insight on careers in fire service and share what the job entails.
The forums will be held on Thursday, Feb. 23 from 4:30-6 p.m. and Thursday, March 16 from 4:30-6 p.m. Both will be held in the boardroom of Station 6, located at 316 North Main Street in Breckenridge. The forums are free and open to the public.
Deputy chief of operation Paul Kuhn, Human Resources officer Amanda Seidler and the Station 6 crew will be on hand to deliver a presentation, lead a discussion and answer questions.
RWB will be testing for firefighter candidates from March 1-29. More information and applications can be found online at http://www.RWBFire.org.
Attention Frisco hikers and bikers: now’s the time to weigh in on the future of your local trail system.
On Thursday, Feb. 23, the town of Frisco hosts a community conversation event about future enhancements to the Frisco Peninsula Recreation Area. Frisco residents and business owners are invited to be a part of this interactive conversation, which begins with a presentation at 5:30 p.m. at the Frisco Adventure Park Day Lodge (621 Recreation Way). The meeting is an opportunity to give feedback on proposed ideas for enhancing the recreation area and surrounding trails for the summer and winter seasons.
“During our 2015 Community Survey, 62 percent of respondents answered that they live in Frisco because of recreational amenities, so we knew it was a crucial time to continue the conversation about what the Frisco Peninsula should look like going forward,” said Diane McBride, assistant town manager and recreation director. “Frisco owns 220 acres of land on the Peninsula, and this area is very significant to the quality of life and legacy of Frisco.”
Can’t make the meeting? Town officials encourage all citizens to stay connected with local government by signing up to receive emails containing town council agendas, planning commission agendas and the latest town news at FriscoGov.com/connect/newsletter-signup.
For more information about the Feb. 23 meeting or recreation planning, contact the town recreation and cultural director at (970) 668-2559 or Dianem@townoffrisco.com.
The Keystone Science School is now accepting applications for scholarships for its annual summer camp until March 1, giving more children the chance to benefit from this outdoor experience.
These so-called “camperships” are available to families that need some financial support to send their kid(s) to camp. The program is now in its 11th year, having providing more than 500 children with a camp experience.
“We will make every effort possible to help your camper attend a session in one of our summer camp programs,” Cap Witzler, selection committee member, said in a news release. “While our requests for financial help often exceed the funds available, if you feel your child cannot attend without some aid, and otherwise would be unable to attend, we would encourage you to promptly complete a financial aid application.”
The process is simple, and more than $20,000 in scholarships are available. Recipients will be informed before April 1.
Interested individuals should visit KeystoneScienceSchool.org/camp/financial-aid. Once there, complete the online application, or submit it via U.S. Mail to:
Breckenridge town staffers say that paid parking has lessened congestion in core areas of town, but some locals are still unsure of its effectiveness.
During the town council retreat meeting on Tuesday, staff members reviewed their findings from the first six weeks of paid parking in the town. One objective from the town’s parking task force was to have 15 percent of the on-street parking spaces throughout town available at any given time. Kim Dysktra said in an email to the Summit Daily that this has been nearly achieved, with a few exceptions based on the time and day of the week.
Julie Chandler, who lives in the Lower Blue area, said that she has noticed a difference in travel patterns from locals.
“A lot of locals are taking public transportation,” she said. “It really has opened up a lot of spots on Main Street. It’s been needed for years.”
The town implemented paid parking last December as the first step in lessening traffic woes in the town. During their retreat meeting, council members discussed further steps such as roundabout construction and the long-debated parking structure. Construction on the roundabout at Four O’Clock Road will begin in April and the council gave the nod of approval to start designing two other roundabouts. The town is focusing its efforts on Park Avenue, specifically the intersections at Main Street and Village Road.
The town had hoped to strike a bargain with Breckenridge Ski Resort and purchase the South Gondola Lot to build a parking structure there. However, the resort’s vice president, John Buhler, rejected the $3.5 million offer in mid-January saying that the lots were too important to the resort.
Council members deliberated at the meeting which location in town would be the best spot for a structure. The Ice Rink lot was mentioned as a possibility. The council decided on looking at structures in multiple locations, agreeing to create 750 new spaces throughout the town.
“Council feels strongly that it is important to get the location of any parking structure(s) right,” Dykstra wrote. “As a result, it is necessary to consider multiple town-owned locations in order to provide the right balance for the community while maximizing the positive impact to parking in town.”
With more locals taking public transportation in the town, council also discussed several “people-moving” options. The town will be doing a study to see if a new gondola would be cost-effective in getting people where they need to go. The council also approved the expansion of Main Street Trolley to year round service. To make sure the service is effective, the town will purchase a second trolley and hire four seasonal summer drivers.
Nick Truitt, owner of Breck Bike Guides, said that in the beginning, he noticed more people using public transportation. But now he has noticed skiers parking on Main Street, taking up spots for longer periods of time.
“When the Gondola Lot fills up, I think Main Street does too,” he said.
His concern was that as people learned the system, they may take advantage of the long-term parking rates in town.
Shortly after the parking machines were installed throughout town in November, one of the kiosks had its solar panel destroyed. Breckenridge police were unable to find a suspect. Breckenridge resident Mikenze Eau Claire said that replacing kiosks would be costly for the town, and that in the end they are a waste of money. Eau Claire added that the town has also not been clear on where the money from paid parking is going. As someone working in the town, adjusting to paid parking has also caused difficulties.
“We have to park far away to get to work,” he said. “It’s not beneficial for people who live and work here.”
Summit County and the town of Breckenridge are making small strides forward in the fight to get better broadband service.
A broadband update was presented during the county commissioners work session on Jan. 24. The county had put together a request for information in December, getting responses from eight different wireless companies. County Commissioner Karn Stieglemeier said that some of the companies were willing to work with the more populated areas of Summit, but not the rural areas. Many of the companies say the areas don’t make financial sense.
“It’s a basic utility that should be provided to everyone, but that’s not the way we do it in this country, it is for profit,” she said. “We continue to struggle with that.”
The county has currently entered into a nondisclosure agreement with a company that could potentially partner to help build cellular towers. Stieglemeier said that they are looking at locations in Montezuma and the Lower Blue, two of the areas in the county that have difficulties receiving service.
The council approved rolling $75,000 into this year’s budget to seek partners in potentially funding broadband projects.
Breckenridge is taking its first steps toward seeking broadband independence. After 2A passed, Breckenridge joined the county’s request for information. Brian Waldes, the director of finance in Breckenridge, said that the town is hoping to partner with the county.
“The county has a different set of needs than the town of Breck does, but there’s still that potential that we could find the same partner that can address them both,” Waldes said. “At this really early stage, that’s the hope.”
While the county is trying to fix the gaps in service, the town of Breckenridge is focusing on bringing better Wi-Fi to the town. Waldes said that Wi-Fi services may help with some of the cellular capacity issues that the town sees during peak season.
The county has been seeking to improve its broadband service since passing the measure in 2015. The county hired communications consulting firm, CTC Technology and Energy, to do a feasibility study and to find service gaps. Areas in Summit Cove, Montezuma and the Lower Blue were found to have little coverage.
The county began working with AT&T in 2014 to build two cellular towers in locations that would serve these communities. But the company backed out, saying that its business model has shifted away from single tower builds.
In addition to the potential construction of cell towers, Stieglemeier said that the county is investigating white space, which enables a community to use television channels that are not being broadcast on for wireless.
“We’re looking at that as a possibility, a combination of towers and using this white space as a way to get at least wireless to the big chunk of the Lower Blue,” she said.
Towns in Rio Blanco County may have found another possible solution to broadband woes. The county publicly funded the build-out of a network infrastructure. Their new service, which went live in January, offers one gigabyte of the fiber connection to residents and local businesses in Rangely and Meeker. The towns have brought in a third party to manage and maintain the service.
Nate Walowitz, the regional broadband coordinator for the Northwest Council of Colorado Government, said that Rio Blanco had been running into similar issues with broadband companies not finding the area to be financially viable. So the county went its own route. He added that those towns are now in the process of looking at either expanding current towers, or building a new one in order to provide cellular service to the more rural residents outside of Meeker and Rangely.
“It’s a model that could potentially be duplicated and leveraged for use in Summit County,” Walowitz said.
The council has been working with counties across the northwestern portion of the state in bettering broadband services. The county has been working with the organization and during Tuesday’s meeting, the Breckenridge Town Council directed staff to work with them as well.
“They have a lot of knowledge in this area, they know where a lot of the fiber is in the ground already, they also know what’s coming down the pike in terms of statewide expansions of fiber networks and who’s going to own it and how you can partner with them. Because it’s not just in town, if you’re going to have for example this Wi-Fi bubble in Breckenridge, this Wi-Fi bubble also has to get back to the internet itself,” Waldes said.
Keystone’s sixth annual Winter Wine Tasting will offer indulgences starting at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Warren Station Center for the Arts.
Guests will choose from a spectrum of varietals in the walk-around event, including bold fireplace reds with sparkling and winter whites, according to a news release. Additionally, hors d’oeuvres, sweets and sample dishes prepared by Black Diamond Catering will be available, while wine specialists from Republic National Distributing Company help patrons to develop their palates.
The soirée also features food stations with three whiskeys and a collaboration of wine-infused cocktails while the JJ Sansaverino Trio will play live jazz-fusion throughout the event.
Tickets start at $40 per person in advance. Participants must be at least 21 years old to participate.
For more information about the menus, wine selections or to make reservations go to WarrenStation.com.
A record number of rafters floated Colorado’s waterways last year, spurring a banner year for the rafting industry and the communities that host river-running vacationers.
The Colorado River Outfitters Association on Thursday said rafting companies hosted 550,861 commercial guests on 29 stretches of rivers in 2016. Those guests spent more than $70 million in Colorado, stirring an estimated economic impact of nearly $180 million in the state’s riverside communities.
“When people come to Colorado to spend their vacation, we are seeing more people thinking, ‘Hey, we ought to raft before we go home.’ Fifteen, 20 years ago, people didn’t think about rafting as much. They thought maybe it sounded a little bit too far beyond them. Now, outfitters are catering to a larger demographic and more families, and they are pushing into gentler water,” said David Costlow, the head of the outfitters association.
The Breckenridge Town Council’s retreat meeting on Valentine’s Day will start at 9 a.m. The bulk of the meeting will be on different parking updates for the town. The council will review the parking and transportation work plan for the year, which includes discussions on walkability. The council will also review an engineering study on Park Avenue, which was presented at the council meeting on Jan. 24. There will then be discussion on paid parking.
In the latter half of the retreat meeting, the council will discuss their goals for the upcoming year, as well as their workforce housing and broadband plans. The retreat meeting will end before the council goes into executive session at 6:30 p.m.
The council’s regular meeting will begin at 7 p.m. They will do a second reading on the waste disposal ordinance.
5 p.m., Studio B, 755 Blue River Parkway. Join Studio B Dance Center and Sue Lane Beauty for a fun evening of burlesque makeup tutorials (lashes and lips) learn a sexy dance, and make a pair of your very own pasties. $15, includes dance lesson, food and drinks, a make up tutorial and a $15 credit to any service at Sue Lane Beauty. Please call to rsvp, (970) 368-2439.
ELKS LODGE FUNDRAISER BREAKFAST
Silverthorne, Feb. 12
9 a.m., Summit County Elks Lodge, 1321 Blue River Parkway. All-you-can-eat fundraiser breakfast to benefit local performing arts organization Summit Music and Arts. Will call tickets: Elks Lodge (970) 468-2561. Cash,check or purchase tickets online at Summitmusicandarts.org.
OVERLOOK GUIDED SNOWSHOE TOUR
Breckenridge, Feb. 12
11:30 a.m., Gold Run Nordic Center, 200 Clubhouse Drive. A family-oriented tour that takes you past the Jessie Mill and onto the historic town of Preston. Spectacular views of the Ten Mile Range from the Jumbo Mine. The tour is two and a half hours long. (970) 453-1734.
ARGENTIUM SILVER WORKSHOP
Breckenridge, Feb. 12
9:30 a.m., Hot Shop, 123 S. Ridge St. Master goldsmith and certified master bench jeweler, Ronda Coryell, will provide expert instruction and close up demos in working with Argentium sterling silver. Students will leave with three finished products. (970) 453-3364.
GANESH: CROSSING THE THRESHOLD TO NEW BEGINNINGS
Breckenridge, Feb. 12
1:30 p.m., Meta Yoga Studios, 118 S. Ridge St. This workshop will explore the story of Hindu god Ganesh. In the class participants will reflect on how thresholds, beginnings and obstacles manifest through mudra, visualization, journaling and chanting. (970) 547-9642.
Just shy of its 70th birthday, Boulder’s Skiing Magazine is shuttering its print publication and folding its adventure-focused content into a revamped version of its sister, Ski Magazine.
For years, Skiing has been the winter-adventure magazine, with a focus on younger skiers who live for the sport. Ski Magazine has been more family friendly, with an eye toward the aging baby boomers who grew the ski industry and seek a little more luxe in their ski vacation.
The plan is to marry the two brands into a single, snowy voice, says Andy Clurman, the chief of Active Interest Media, the 50-magazine publisher that acquired Ski, Skiing and Warren Miller Entertainment in 2013 with a mission to revive the once-ailing yet iconic brands.
“We are going for the bigger tent approach,” said Clurman, who was in New York City for the annual American Magazine Media Conference, where he joined three other high-profile publishers on a panel discussing “why magazines perform unlike any other media, with devoted audiences, passionate communities and engaged consumers.”
Imagine a ski resort, he said. There’s a terrain park on one side. Expert steeps up high. Gently rolling groomers down low. It’s a one-stop playground for every type of skier.
“The magazine should reflect that without having to segment the market,” he said.
The formula for figuring the allowable annual appreciation of deed-restricted homes that Summit County government oversees could soon be changing.
The issue cropped up in the last few years as a residual effect of the recession that started in late 2007 and lasted through parts of 2009. The county’s current calculation, known as area median income, or AMI, is one used across the nation, but suffers inherent drawbacks, particularly for smaller communities like Summit. As such, leadership is attempting to find a better method for balancing affordability of these for-sale units over time with providing some predictable, reasonable rate of return based on the realities of the economy and housing market.
“We used this, and it sort of worked for a number of years,” said County Commissioner Thomas Davidson, at a Tuesday county meeting. “As long as the economy was chugging along, things were going up, so people were, I guess, content, even if they couldn’t understand the calculation. But yeah, the recession points out to us, in painful reality here, this isn’t so good. So what do we do?”
There are presently seven developments, containing five different deed guidelines among them, in unincorporated areas of the community. That accounts for 77 properties at complexes like Keystone’s Hidden River Lodge, Soda Creek Condos and the new Copper Point Townhomes at Copper Mountain. Meanwhile, the housing located in other areas of the county in town boundaries remains governed by the municipality where it resides, though each town is also said to be reviewing its own templates.
The problem, according to county staff, is that AMI for communities with fewer than 65,000 residents — Summit registers a year-round population of about 30,000 — has less reliable data based on the use of a five-year estimate for median family incomes. National surveyors, in the meantime, update larger cities every year, which grants more accurate ingredients for tallying present conditions.
“The 2016 number is being generated based on income data from as far back as 2008-12,” explained Kate Berg, county senior planner. “There’s a lag and this doesn’t really reflect what’s happening now with our incomes. We’re expecting that the current situation is likely going to correct itself over the next few years, but this issue with how AMI is calculated for our community given our small population isn’t going away.”
By relying on figures from five years back, not only are the circumstances very different under present market conditions, but it forces those who bought, say, a unit at the Monarch Townhomes in 2009, into a scenario where they are unable to see any return at all due to the association with AMI. That’s because since 2013, the AMI has fallen three consecutive years for a total of almost 12 percent. As a result, four-person household incomes are calculated as about $4,000 less than they were in 2009. That produces a ceiling for potential sellers at or below what they originally paid. That’s a tough pill to swallow, especially when the county’s housing market only continues to tick up.
“When it runs counter to the market, it creates all kinds of emotional distress for those owners,” said county manager Scott Vargo. “It’s one thing when the whole market is going down, and the property value in the deed-restricted unit is also flat, or going down. But when it’s opposite of what’s happening in the market, it becomes very confusing.”
To fix this stumbling block long term, the county is now looking at a variety of options, taking special note of what neighboring and like communities use to guarantee an acceptable rate of return in positive years for those are looking to build equity through the traditional mainstay of home ownership. Staff made recommendations for better incorporating fixed rates, other computations like the national Consumer Price Index and the average of local wages, or some derivative and mixture of each. In Aspen, the government allows the lesser of the change in the CPI or 3 percent gain; in Vail, the annual percent change in Eagle County wages, at a fixed ceiling of 6 percent.
A document circulated by staff showed that under current AMI conditions, the buyer of a two-bedroom Soda Creek Condo at $185,000 will possibly lose value if their home sold today. Under the Aspen method, however, that owner could plan for a max sale price of about $203,500, or 10 percent appreciation. A model similar to Vail’s, based on Summit numbers over that course of time, imagines 16 percent appreciation, and a sale price of $214,000. Importantly, those prices also keep the homes in the appropriate range for purchase based on area household incomes.
The other benefit of a simpler formula is that it makes the process easier for deed-restricted owners to calculate and understand. That’s good for all parties, officials said.
“Making sense of all of this and how this works is fairly challenging,” acknowledged Davidson.
The county board will proceed in deciding what’s best for Summit over the coming months, and plans to forge ahead as the local trial balloon with prospects for the towns to follow. Breckenridge staff present at the meeting suggested their council would pay close attention as they plan for the kickoff of the next phase of its Denison Placer for-sale workforce project this summer.
“We’ve been communicating to them, and I’m keeping them in the loop with what we do,” said Berg. “They’re all kind of excited that we’re leading the charge in a little bit more of an organized way than anyone else seems to be. They’re looking to us, and we want to share info.”
Quipped Davidson: “I hope there aren’t any mistakes then.”