Breck ponders limiting Main Street real estate offices |

Breck ponders limiting Main Street real estate offices

Bob Berwyn
Vail, CO, Colorado

BRECKENRIDGE ” A debate about limiting the number of real estate and other professional offices on Main Street may focus on local government’s role in regulating business in the downtown core.

The Breckenridge Economic Development Advisory Commission has had preliminary discussions about trying to find ways to maintain a good mix of retail, restaurant and office space downtown.

The Breckenridge Town Council may look at the proposal as early as Feb. 13 to decide whether to draft a regulation that’s seen as a draconian measure by some local Realtors, who feel unfairly targeted by the potential restriction.

Carla Green, a Realtor with Keller Williams, has exchanged e-mails with town staff, elected officials and economic development council members, suggesting that some of the council members who own Main Street businesses may have at least the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Green said she’s concerned about potential impacts not only on real estate offices but on other types of businesses.

“Where will it stop?” Green said, suggesting that micro-management by the town could eventually lead to restrictions on other types of businesses.

The issue has “been around since I got here,” Town Manager Tom Gagen said. Over the years, the town has heard that the proliferation of real estate offices on Main Street has cost the town some of its mining-town charm, Gagen said.

But the economic climate was different the last time town officials looked at a plan to restrict offices, in late 2001.

“The economy wasn’t so great. There was concern we could end up with vacant storefronts,” Gagen said of those discussions. At the same time, there was a strong constituency for letting the market determine the mix of business.

Town Council member Eric Mamula said that’s still a valid argument. But the discussion needs to take place.

About 20 percent of the commercial space along Main Street ” including upper floors ” is used by various professional offices, including real estate businesses. That’s up a bit from about eight years ago, Gagen said.

Economic development council member and Main Street business owner Steve Lapinsohn gave an update on the subject to the Breckenridge Resort Chamber, saying it’s crucial to maintain the vitality of Main Street with a healthy mix of businesses.

Gagen said other towns in the region have taken similar steps. According to some of the research evaluated by the economic development council, those moves have by and large achieved the desired results without any significant economic ripples. Vail experienced a drop in rentals for about a year after adopting a similar measure, Gagen said.

Although the town is still a long way from adopting new regulations, Gagen said if the day comes, it would be a planning-code issue. That could ultimately result in a decrease in the number of real estate offices. Existing professional offices would be allowed to stay on Main Street.

Bob Berwyn can be reached at 331-5996 or

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