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Empty spaces sold to fill hotel beds

Allen Best

WINTER PARK “Wide Open Spaces” is tentatively the new ad campaign for Winter Park and the Fraser Valley.”Steamboat has the barn. Jackson Hole has the Tetons. When (Boulder-based consulting firm) Merge Creative showed us research they conducted with locals and on the Front Range, they proved that what people identify us with is wide open spaces,” said Catherine Ross, director of the Winter Park/Fraser Valley Chamber of Commerce.Jackson housing market in balanceJACKSON HOLE, Wyo. Like most resort towns, Jackson’s market formerly tight-as-a-drum housing market is now nearly loose as a goose. The situation is such that of the 48 affordable housing units that went on the market several months ago, 18 remain unsold.Why aren’t people buying? In at least some cases, because they can afford to buy housing that isn’t restricted upon resale to 3 to 4 percent annual appreciation. Interest rates have remained low, and the price of free-market housing has dipped to the $150,000 to $225,000 range. In short, there is a temporary balance between housing and employment in Jackson Hole, while dozens of deed-restricted units are scheduled to come on line yet this year.”Temporary” is the operative word, said several people contacted by the Jackson Hole News & Guide. “We don’t see it as a long-term issue that we’re going to be facing,” said Clay Geittmann, chairman of the board of directors for the Teton County Housing Authority. Adeveloper who has been converting rentals to condos agrees. “It is a blip,” said Erik Bedford, “We’re lower-end unit rich now, but in nine months poof.”Town administrator Bob McLaurin also urges a long-term view. “I think you can make an argument that this is when you step up the production of affordable housing,” he says. “We have a responsibility to look multi-generationally, not just this next quarter.”Still, while some say the softness is temporary, others, ncluding Jackson Mayor Mark Barron, question the accuracy of three-year-old projections of strong need for publicly financed affordable housing. One of the issues now is whether to build lots of housing in a few areas or several smaller projects – a sort of home run vs. singles question.Meanwhile, the rental market remains more open. The manager of one complex reported an 8 percent vacancy rate this year, double the 4 percent of past winters.Apartment managers are now offering ski passes among other inducements to attract tenants. Rents in the higher-end of the market have fallen, although apparently not by a lot.


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