Wednesday, February 20, 2019

VRBO ranks Breckenridge top destination among US ski resorts

Michael Yearout Photography

Surprise, surprise, it’s Breckenridge — again.
The Summit County resort town consistently ranked among the top destinations in Colorado and the U.S. has just been pinpointed by as “the most popular ski season destination among travelers” for the 2019-20 ski season.
A VRBO spokeswoman said the travel accommodations website won’t reveal how many guest arrivals or book nights there were for Breckenridge properties, but she confirmed that the town logged more visits through than any other comparable destination.

Behind Breckenridge was Park City, Utah, followed by Mammoth Lakes, California, in third, according to VRBO’s rankings.
While VRBO won’t release figures on bookings, some of the statistics that it did publicize regarding the short-term rentals in Breckenridge were jaw dropping.

Based on the properties listed with its website, VRBO says vacation-rental homeowners in the Breckenridge area can charge over $3,325 a week renting out their homes at peak times during the ski season.
The spokeswoman said that figure — derived from a $475 nightly rate — was taken on average and does not simply reflect VRBO’s most expensive rentals, which can run up to $5,000 a night in Breckenridge.
The numbers don’t include any of VRBO’s fees, either, the spokeswoman said, adding that the data points should be taken as “ballpark figures” for what homeowners in Breckenridge might charge listing their homes with VRBO.
“What you would actually net is specific to (the situation),” she explained, adding that the company has different working models for homeowners that can affect the owners’ incomes.
But over half of all VRBO owners use that income to cover at least 75 percent of their mortgage payments, said Bill Furlong, vice president of VRBO’s North American business, in a prepared statement.
And statistics like these are the primary reason Breckenridge’s elected leaders have asked town staff to start segregating short-term rentals from the town’s overall lodging category in the monthly sales tax reports.
That request followed tagging Summit County as the top mountain destination in Colorado last year with 275,300 guest arrivals and $57 million in host income, second in the state to only Denver.
In 2017, Airbnb ranked Breckenridge second in both guest visits and rental income statewide by itself with two other Summit County locales — Keystone and Silverthorne — making the top 10 before Airbnb began lumping all of Summit County together.
Unlike Airbnb, VRBO also released a list of the top origin cities showing where these guests are coming from.
In contrast with Vail, which largely relies on major metropolitan areas across the U.S., like New York or Atlanta, for many of its travelers — a host of Colorado cities are responsible for a lot of Breckenridge’s guests, according to VRBO.
Ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively, Denver and Colorado Springs accounted for the highest number of travelers booking Breckenridge through VRBO. The town also saw a strong turnout from Texans with Austin, Houston and Dallas filling out the bottom three slots of Breckenridge’s top five origin cities.
At No. 7, Chicago managed to crack Breckenridge’s top 10 origin cities, but Colorado reigned king locally with Littleton, Aurora, Fort Collins and Highlands Ranch filling out the remainder of Breckenridge’s top 10 list.
“The traveler origins tell you a lot about the appeal of specific destinations,” the VRBO spokeswoman said.
Additionally, it might influence rental rates. That’s because Park City homeowners could charge $690 a night, according to VRBO, while Vail’s homeowners could get top-dollar at $730 a night.
As for the homes being rented out by VRBO, the company’s “Premier Partner Properties” in Breckenridge are certainly nice ones, but they’re not necessarily the multi-million-dollar, mountain-modern mansions with ski-in, ski-out access.
One of the featured homes is a three-bedroom, three-bathroom condo with 1,550 square feet in the heart of downtown. It advertises comfortable accommodations for up to eight to nine people and rents for around the VRBO average.
Conversely, the one that charges $5,000 a night has eight bedrooms and five-and-a-half bathrooms with 4,600 square feet and advertises sleeping accommodations for up to 17 people.
Courtesy Summit Daily.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Vail Resorts end pass partnership

Summit Daily

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area announced Monday it will not continue its pass partnership program with Vail Resorts next season.
In a statement announcing the news on its website, officials with A-Basin pointed to “a pinch on parking and facility space” as a reason for the breakup.
“Due to these constraints,” the statement read, “Arapahoe Basin believes its staff can take better care of its guests by separating from Vail Resorts.”

“With diverse ski runs including some of the most intense terrain in North America and a culinary operation that is regularly listed among the top 10 in the country, the ski area has developed a very special community that feels like home,” A-Basin chief operating officer Alan Henceroth wrote. “In order to continue to build on this spirit and the experience we have created, Arapahoe Basin and Vail Resorts will not be renewing their pass partnership for the 2019/2020 season.”
The announcement cited the growth both in popularity and skier visitation the ski area has seen after investing 40 million dollars over the last 15 years. On his A-Basin blog, Henceroth provided more explanation behind A-Basin’s perspective on the end of the partnership, and also said although there is that pinch on parking and facility space, the mountain “still has plenty of room for skiers and riders.”
“Looking forward,” Henceroth wrote, “we strive to provide ready and easy access for our guests. Our goal is to minimize waiting and crowding and maximize experiences and fun.”
The COO added that currently the ski area has no new partnerships to announce, however, in the coming months A-Basin will be discussing opportunities with several resorts and resort groups.

“Skiers and riders that call A-Basin home can feel good knowing the resort will still offer tremendous value and exceptional mountain experiences,” Henceroth continued on his blog. “These actions are designed to preserve that special culture and vibe people expect when they choose to spend a day at The Basin. The future for Arapahoe Basin is very bright.”
The COO also clarified that the 2018-19 Vail Resorts season passes will remain valid at A-Basin for the remainder of the 2018-19 season.
Vail Resorts announces new ‘Keystone Plus Pass’
Shortly after A-Basin announced the end of the partnership, Vail Resorts released its own statement announcing the “Keystone Plus Pass,” a new option to replace the Keystone A-Basin Pass.
In its statement, officials with Vail Resorts said the new pass will provide unlimited access to Keystone Resort with holiday restrictions, unlimited late spring skiing at Breckenridge Ski Resort starting April 1 and five days at Crested Butte, with holiday restrictions. The pass will have a starting price of $369 for adults and $259 for kids. The Keystone Plus Pass will go on sale when Epic Pass products launch in spring 2019.
The Keystone A-Basin Pass has historically been a popular choice among Summit County locals and transient skiers alike as a reasonably priced pass (less than $400) that provides an ability to ski and ride not only at the two destinations located just miles from one another, but also night skiing at Keystone.
Vail Resorts also announced that beginning next season, all of the company’s unlimited season pass products will include 10 buddy tickets, which is an increase from the six previously offered on the Epic Pass, Epic Local Pass, Summit Value Pass. Buddy tickets are daily lift tickets offered at a flat discounted rate for friends and family of pass holders. This will be included with the Keystone Plus Pass, Tahoe Local Pass, and Tahoe Value Pass when purchased before the customary April deadline.
“We are excited to offer a new pass that provides skiing and riding from mid-October through Memorial Day at Keystone and Breckenridge, at an incredible value,” said Kirsten Lynch, chief marketing officer for Vail Resorts, in the statement. “We want to thank Arapahoe Basin for their partnership for over 20 years. We are disappointed but given the success they have had and their recent investments into the resort, we respect that this is the right time for them to move in a different direction.”
In its release, Vail Resorts also pointed to how it is positioning for both Keystone and Breckenridge resorts to offer “one of the longest ski and snowboard seasons in the country.” In recent months, Vail Resorts announced capital investments into Keystone Resort’s snowmaking that the company hopes will help position the resort to be the first to open in the U.S. The company also announced that, pending U.S. Forest Service approval, Breckenridge Ski Resort will annually extend winter seasons through Memorial Day, extending its season by more than a month.
Historically, along with Loveland Ski Area in neighboring Clear Creek County, A-Basin has been the first or one of the first ski areas to open in the country. It also typically stays open later than most any other resort in the country.
Courtesy Summit Daily.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Breckenridge’s big project tracking on time, within budget

Summit Daily

On time and within the budget is what the elected officials in Breckenridge like to hear when they’re talking about one of the most important and expensive capital projects in town history.
And that’s how work on the new water treatment plant on the northern end of town at Highway 9 and Stan Miller Drive is progressing, said James Phelps, director of public works. Once complete, it will have the capacity to produce 3 million gallons of clean water daily.
Breckenridge officials broke ground on the $58 million water treatment plant in April 2018, a project that’s going to give the town the second source of water it sorely needs.

Providing a project update, Phelps said via email that construction is tracking ahead of schedule, as he explained that 42 percent of the work has been completed within 36 percent of the allotted construction time.
With that, he expects the new water treatment plant will be finished on time in the summer of 2020.

“The project is tracking on schedule,” Phelps said, adding that construction activities are happening across the site at the new plant’s administration, residuals and treatment buildings.
Work is ongoing at the raw water pump station as well, including the pump station and intake structure, while construction of the main building ­— the treatment building — is looking to go vertical in March.
The construction budget for the new water treatment plant came in at $42 million. So far, there have been five change orders for $38,000, Phelps said, adding that more are expected as the work continues but he doesn’t think they will run the plant over its total budget of $58 million, which includes design, construction and contingency costs.
As far as the town can tell, the new water treatment plant stands as the largest capital spend Breckenridge has ever made on a single project.
However, going without a second water plant could cost the town even more dearly in the event a wildfire or drought threatens Breckenridge’s only existing source of drinking water at the Gary Roberts Water Treatment Plant. While those fears exist, the town needs a backup now because of the Goose Pasture Tarn Dam.
The earthen dam built in 1965 sits near the Gary Roberts Water Treatment Plant and has an eroding spillway in need of repairs. State and local officials believe the dam will hold given mitigation efforts, but it’s a pressing need, nonetheless.
However, the dam work can’t begin until the town can turn off the old water plant, which it can’t do without depriving Breckenridge of its water supply until the new one is up and running.
Other concerns leading to the construction of the new water plant include having a redundancy of treatment capacity, maintaining operational flexibility and protecting the environmental health of the river.
With all the ongoing work at the new plant, Phelps wanted to highlight water pipeline work that will begin in late May, or as the weather allows, and should be complete by November.
It entails installing a water line from the main treatment building and connecting to an existing water line on Highlands Drive. The pipe will follow an alignment up Fairview Boulevard, and the finished line will go under Highway 9, utilizing a casing pipe that was previously installed.
The town will hold a second public meeting on April 10 for the Silver Shekel Neighborhood and has set up a project website specific to the finished water pipeline at for updates once construction begins.
As for the giant crane that’s been hovering over Breckenridge while work at the water treatment plant continues, Phelps said it could be de-erected in late summer, possibly sometime in August.
Courtesy Summit Daily

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Don't buy into the hype of a pending real estate crash


Don't buy into the hype over a pending real estate crash

Saw a great video on LinkedIn today in which Noel Christopher, senior vice president at Renters Warehouse, warned people not to buy into the hype over the imminent real estate crash. Of course, it was tongue in cheek, and I haven’t heard anyone saying that the reporting slowdown in home appreciation was a sign of the end of times.
He was referring to the recent news from Black Knight that showed that home values fell 0.2% in November, making it the first time the market has seen a consecutive three-month decline in home sales since 2012.
To make it a little worse, new data from CoreLogic showed U.S. home prices increased only 0.1% in December, which showed that home price appreciation was at the slowest pace since 2012.
As you can imagine, some real estate investors were choking on their breakfast cereal. But not very many.
In fact, the stories I read were calm and balanced and there was no pulling of hair or gnashing of teeth. Black Knight’s director of public relations, Mitch Cohen, hit LinkedIn recently to comment: “Keep in mind that home values are still up year over year in every state and 99 of the 100 largest U.S. markets.”
Every time we see an in-depth analysis of a weekly change in interest rates or mortgage loan application data, we remind ourselves not to buy into the hype. What seems like a sheer drop this week may look quite different in light of next week’s data, to say nothing of an analysis of historical data. We all love analytics, but getting too close to the data prevents us from seeing the bigger picture.
And while “don’t buy into the hype” is good advice in general, it brings with it a bad side effect. It gives hype a bad name.
Hype is not bad. Buying into it without a valid reason is bad.
On a recent episode of the wildly entertaining and informative ZigZag podcast, hosts Manoush Zomorodi and Jen Poyant talk about the lifecycle of an idea. They use for illustration the Five Phases of the Hype Cycle that tech analyst Jackie Fenn created more than 25 years ago to track innovations.
This graphic illustrates the Hype Cycle Research Methodology currently in use at Gartner:
See the peak of inflated expectations there in the second stage of the cycle? That’s hype and it’s a good thing.
When an idea explodes into this part of the cycle, a lot of investment usually follows, which fuels more innovation and ultimately profitability. Well, for some of the good ideas at least. Because the following stages of the cycle are somewhat less rewarding, hype is typically blamed.
In truth, hype is the only reason anyone ever found out about the ideas that ultimately become wildly successful. It’s not intended to be a hot stock tip. It’s an invitation to peer into the idea and determine for ourselves whether it’s worth our time and investment. We don’t want to just blindly buy into it, but we may want to look into it.
Ask anyone who didn’t look into Amazon in 1997. The hype was out there, they just didn’t buy into it.
Courtesy  Rick Grant, HousingWirePulse

Friday, February 15, 2019

Silverthorne OKs final site plan for 92-unit housing project

#Silverthorne #Colorado
Summit Daily

Silverthorne Town Council approved the final site plan for the River West condos on Wednesday, giving developers the go-ahead on their designs for a 92-unit housing project in the downtown area.
The developers have scaled back plans for the four-acre parcel between 890 and 970 Blue River Parkway somewhat, coming down from 94 units to their newest count, which call for 54 two-bedroom condos, 20 one-bedroom units and 18 studios across 10 two- and three-story buildings.
The town has a 35-foot cap on building heights in the area, but council was willing to let the developers go over it by a little over a foot with some of the building’s design accents being responsible for the overage. Previously, the developers had been looking to exceed the height limit by approximately 4 feet.

Council backed the developer’s plans on a 5-1 vote Wednesday with Councilman Bob Kieber in dissent. Expressing perceived issues regarding snow storage, river access, building height, traffic and the number of trash bins for the 92 housing units, Kieber said he didn’t support the project last time and couldn’t support it now.
However, other council members were highly complimentary of the developers’ plans and thanked them for revisions made and for working with the town on the project.

The project is being spearheaded by TG Developers, which has also agreed to put a 1 percent real estate transfer assessment for the town on the second sale of each condo and all subsequent sales of each condo, in addition to granting the river and a pedestrian path to the town.
The developers also say several units will be maintained as long-term rentals.
Courtesy Summit Daily

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Frisco awards $1.5 million contract for ‘Big Dig’ marina project

#Frisco #Colorado

The “Big Dig” is starting to take shape.
The Frisco Town Council approved an ordinance awarding a nearly $1.5 million contract to Schofield Excavation on Tuesday night, signaling another step forward for the town’s planned improvements at the marina.
The Big Dig, the first notable step in the Frisco Marina Park Master Plan, is meant to address operational challenges at the marina by deepening a portion of the reservoir by as much as 17 feet, a process that will require the excavation of about 85,000 cubic yards of material from the lake bottom.

Once complete, the marina will be able to operate at considerably lower reservoir levels than it can now, and presumably extend its season by about 30 days. Additionally, the project opens the door for the implementation of further phases of the master plan over the next couple years, including a new office planned on-site, improved parking areas, expanded rental capacities and more that the town hopes will increase revenues.
The ordinance passed in a split 6-1 decision. Councilwoman Deborah Shaner was the lone dissenter, citing concerns over the project’s cost.
Courtesy Summit Daily

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Redfin: Economic headwinds dampen luxury home market

In the fourth quarter of 2018, luxury home prices increased 4.7% year over year to an average of $1.78 million, according to the latest data from Redfin.

Redfin classifies luxury homes as those that sold among the top 5% most expensive in the quarter.
According to the company, sales of homes priced at or above $2 million decreased 3.9%, marking the first time in more than two years that luxury home sales have fallen on an annual basis.

“The fact that sales of high-priced homes declined as their prices grew at a relatively strong rate can be explained in part by the basics of supply and demand,” Redfin writes. “Compared with a year earlier, there were 6.5% fewer $2 million-plus homes on the market last quarter, the seventh quarter in a row inventory of luxury homes has dropped annually.”

Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather explained economic headwinds are responsible for the decline.

“In the fourth quarter of 2018 there was a lot of economic uncertainty – mortgage interest rates peaked in November, and the stock market was all over the place,” Fairweather said. “This may have encouraged luxury sellers to hold on to their real estate assets and also caused luxury buyers to be reluctant to make major home purchases.”

“There’s also economic uncertainty abroad,” Fairweather continued. “For example, China’s economy slowed down at the end of 2018, which may be affecting a segment of U.S. luxury sellers and buyers whose wealth is invested overseas.”

Furthermore, Fairweather noted that when examining the most expensive segment of the housing market nationwide, a disproportionate amount of the movement seen in prices and sales is driven by activity.

In fact, in Q4, luxury homes went under contract after an average of 74 days on the market, nine more days than in the third quarter of 2018, according to the report.

The report indicates that cities in Florida, Nevada and California experienced the largest increases in luxury home prices in the fourth quarter.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Anticipating a critical water shortage next year, feds on the brink of overriding states to cap Colorado River water use

#Colorado and the West.
Lake Mead near the Hoover Dam

Amid the worst drought in the recorded history of the Colorado River Basin, the federal government is giving Colorado and six other states just one more month to finalize drought contingency plans to rein in water use. If all seven basin states do not comply by March 4, the feds will intervene and create its own scheme to adjust water usage across the West.
Jan. 31 was the original deadline for the Upper and Lower Basin states to submit their completed drought contingency plans before the Department of the Interior uses its authority to draw up plans at the federal level.
The Upper Basin states of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico have already submitted their plans, as well as the country of Mexico. The Lower Basin states — Arizona, California and Nevada — have yet to finalize their plans.
There is good reason for the urgency. Lake Mead and Lake Powell, which collectively distribute the Colorado River’s water to 40 million people across the West, are at the lowest levels they’ve been since Lake Powell was first filled in the ‘60s. The drought has been continuous since 2000, with warming temperatures and shorter winters leaving less and less snow melting at the river’s source. The feds wanted the drought contingency plans to be in place by this summer to slow down water loss and avoid reaching critically low reservoir levels next summer.
If a critical level is reached at either major reservoir, a water shortage will be declared, putting into effect water cutback agreements made back in the ‘20s. Water claim owners with lower priorities, such as farmers, will be forced to cut back on water use and jeopardize thousands of acres and millions of dollars of agricultural industry across the southwest.
 To avoid that scenario, the river basin states were called on years ago by the federal Bureau of Reclamation to draw up plans to leave more water in the river when certain reservoir levels are reached. The plans would reduce the risk of the reservoirs hitting critically low water levels.
Coming up with drought contingency plans is time consuming and requires a lot of negotiating among thousands of water rights holders. A particular hangup exists with Arizona, which is the only state that needs state legislature approval before the plans can be officially submitted.
Arizona has been struggling to get the many ranchers, farmers, American Indian tribes and other stakeholders who rely on water in one of the driest parts of the country to agree to cutbacks in the case of a water emergency. After a lot of log rolling, and just six hours before the Jan. 31 deadline, Arizona’s Gov. Doug Ducey signed a drought contingency plan that the state believed to be sufficient.
However, the Bureau of Reclamation was not satisfied. The next day, the bureau proclaimed that Arizona, California and Nevada had not submitted complete plans, as agreements had not been reached with all the key water rights holders. In other words, the feds were not convinced that the drought contingency plans were sufficient to ensure water levels staying above critical.
The bureau gave the states until March 4 to finalize their plans. If they’re not finalized by then, the feds would request comment from the governor of each state on how they wish to manage their water, with a public comment period.
The feds saw Arizona’s late effort to pass a plan as promising, and is still optimistic that the plans can be finalized by the deadline, avoiding federal intervention. However, the situation is grave enough that March 4 may very well be the last day the basin states can control their own destiny when it comes to water management.
“This departmental action was not our preferred approach,” the Bureau of Reclamation said in a statement. “However, any further delay elevates existing risks in the basin to unacceptable levels. It is our hope that the basin states will promptly complete the (plans), and if they are successful, we anticipate terminating (plans for federal intervention.)”

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Colorado lawmaker wants to bar convicted animal abusers from owning pets

Summit Daily

People convicted of animal abuse could be banned from owning, babysitting or living with an animal if a Denver Democrat’s bill becomes state law.Judges would also get the option to include therapy or anger management classes as part of a sentence.

“I think the real important piece of this legislation is the component that deals with judges being able to sentence folks to anger management or mental health treatment,” Rep. Alex Valdez, D-Denver, said.“There’s a correlation between people who commit acts of violence against animals and those same people committing acts of violence against people

.”HB19-1092 would give judges the discretion to prohibit adults and juveniles convicted of misdemeanor animal abuse from “owning, possessing, caring for, or residing with an animal of any kind” for a certain number of years. 

The ban would be mandatory for people convicted of felony animal abuse.Valdez, a first-year lawmaker, modeled the bill after a California law that bans pet ownership for five years after a misdemeanor conviction and 10 years for a felony. 

But he said he got some pushback from members of the House Judiciary Committee where the bill is scheduled for its first hearing Thursday. He plans to change it during that hearing to give judges more leeway when it comes to sentencing.

Read the full story on The Denver Post website, click here.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

After Horsetooth Mountain incident, Colorado Parks & Wildlife shares tips for mountain lion encounters

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

In the wake of Tuesday’s national headline news that a Colorado trail runner fought off a mountain lion attack at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, Colorado Parks and Wildlife shared the following advice for what to do if ever involved in a mountain lion encounter. CPW prefaced the tips with the fact that these attacks are not common in Colorado:
• Do not approach a lion, especially one that is feeding or with kittens. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
• Stay calm when you come upon a lion. Talk calmly and firmly to it. Move slowly and never turn your back on it.
• Stop or back away slowly, if you can do it safely. Running may stimulate a lion’s instinct to chase and attack. Face the lion and stand upright.
• Do all you can to appear larger. Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you’re wearing one.
• If the lion behaves aggressively, throw stones, branches or whatever you can get your hands on without crouching down or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly.
• Fight back if a lion attacks you. Lions have been driven away by prey that fights back. People have fought back with rocks, sticks, caps or jackets, garden tools and their bare hands successfully. We recommend targeting the eyes and nose as these are sensitive areas.
Courtesy Summit Daily