2008: Downturn and development in the Vail Valley
VAIL VALLEY, Colorado ” As we count down the hours toward the new year in the Vail Valley, Colorado, it’s easy to conjure a mental image ” battered, bruised 2008 dragging the baby 2009 onto the scene, shouting “It’s your turn, punk!”
While 2008 was one for the history books, the year started taking a toll on our fair valley as the calendar pages turned. Ask any Realtor, mortgage broker or contractor. Here’s another part of our look back:
We could have used the oil-price “Ow!” headline here, as far as most local brokers are concerned.
The Vail Valley real estate market peaked in 2005 in terms of transactions, and in 2007 in terms of dollar volume. This year, not so much.
March was the worst month for sales in 12 years, and through October, sales volume was off from 2007 by 28 percent. The number of transactions was off more than 40 percent.
Even with the valley on pace for a $2 billion sales year, it’s a hard time to be in the business.
It may be an even tougher time to be in the starter home business.
After a long grind for approval, the West End project in Edwards, touted as a way for working locals to buy homes in the mid-valley, is treading water, at best.
In Gypsum, work started on the Stratton Flats project after county officials provided a big infusion of money. Work continues, but so far sales have closed on only a couple of the 300 homes planned for the property.
Developers at Aspen Ridge, also in Gypsum, offered to give away a home there to one of the first 20 or so buyers who signed contracts. We never heard about a winner.
Among the many problems facing first-time buyers is that it’s now virtually impossible to get a mortgage based only on your good looks.
Tighter credit meant that buyers who were once able to buy homes at, say, Chatfield Corners, were shut out of the market.
The real estate slowdown hit the commercial end of the business, too, of course.
Eagle River Center, a large commercial/residential project proposed for the east side of Eagle between U.S. Highway 6 and Interstate 70, is still working on its town approval, and will almost certainly face a vote if the town board approves the plan.
That’s going to take some time.
Meanwhile, a Texas company earlier this year ” and coincidentally during a national retail real estate conference in Las Vegas ” announced a plan to develop about 80 acres of Magnus Lindholm’s property between Traer Creek Plaza and Avon.
Trademark Property Company’s press release breathlessly touted that the project has nearly a mile of interstate frontage, but neglected to mention that you’d have to park your car on the shoulder of the eastbound lanes, get out of your car and look over a hill to see any of it.
Both developers claimed they’d have some of the work done by fall of 2009.
We shall see…
Vail Valley Medical Center officials announced in September it’s considering moving most of its facilities somewhere downvalley. If you’ve ever tried to park at the hospital on a busy day, you know how tight on space the current facility is.
News of the potential move was greeted about the way you’d expect by old-time Vailites ” they don’t like it.
Still, the move might be inevitable. An editorial favored a move to Wolcott, but we don’t get to make that decision.
When the world’s financial system fell off a cliff in September, former Vail Town Council member Kent Logan, a retired investment banker, got to work.
Pulling together an informal group of other Vail residents, Logan lobbied the town and Vail Resorts in October to put together a last-minute marketing campaign for the coming ski season.
Out of that, and a $550,000 donation from the town’s reserves and a similar infusion of cash and services from Vail Resorts, the Vail “All the Love” campaign was born.
The marketing campaign, aimed mainly at former pass holders, seems to be having at least some effect as we finish off 2008.
Rick Kozuback, president of the parent company of the Central Hockey League, announced in June his company had signed a “letter of intent” with a Texas developer to bring a minor league team to Eagle or Summit counties.
If he can find land and find a way to pay for an arena, he might have a good idea.