Park City surges to new building record |

Park City surges to new building record

Allen Best

PARK CITY, Utah – Construction and real estate records have been broken with abandon in Aspen, Vail, and Jackson Hole during the last several years. Park City, despite coming off the 2002 Winter Olympics, seemed a bit slower. But now it’s also surging.The Park City Building Department reports that through September, permits for $143 million in construction had been awarded. That far surpasses the old benchmark of $119 million that was set in the pre-Olympic building frenzy of 1999. Much of the valuation is attributed to work at two of the town’s ski areas, Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort.The view in Utah is that the Olympics raised the visibility of Park City, and now people are finding it has significantly better value than that of other mountain valleys. In addition, the ski industry in Utah has set records during the last two years.The Park Record notes high real estate sales volume this year, but likely no record.Carpenters picketing projects at NorthstarTRUCKEE, Calif. – Union carpenters have been picketing a construction site in the Village at Northstar, a ski area between Truckee and Lake Tahoe.The carpenters are not striking nor attempting to interrupt work, reports the Sierra Sun, but are claiming the pay and benefits given them by a project contractor called Midwest Drywall are insufficient. The developer of the project is East West Partners. Joe Malone, project manager for East West, said the Northstar project is an “open shop” job, with both union and non-union workers.Winter Park & Fraser sharing courts, more?WINTER PARK-FRASER, Colo. – The towns of Fraser and Winter Park, which are located cheek to jowl, continue to explore how they might become more like one. So far, the courtship amounts to little more than a peck on the cheek.This year the two began sharing basic court functions. Two judges can remain, but the idea is to have two court operations that are not significantly different. Another intergovernmental agreement is being prepared that will combine building departments.Three scenarios are being explored: additional sharing, Fraser joining Winter Park, or complete unification of the two towns. In addition, there’s the do-nothing option.Fraser is the older of the twin towns. It was created in 1904, when railroad tracks from Denver arrived, although not formally incorporated until 1953. Winter Park was first a railroad camp called West Portal, and in time Hideaway Park, after the ski area was created in 1938. It was incorporated in 1978.Jackson Hole steadily becomes more swankJACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – Volume is down but prices are up through September in the Jackson Hole real estate market, producing a market that is within 2 percent of last year’s record pace.The market trends are familiar. The most activity is in the high end, where the number of transactions of properties valued at $2 million-plus has increased 23 percent, according to a report by Jackson Hole Real Estate & Appraisal. In fact, these higher-end properties accounted for half of all sales volume in the first nine months of the year.Something that long-time real-estate broker Bob Graham calls the ‘herding mentality” is the driving force. “People of wealth like to be where there are other people with wealth,’ he told the Jackson Hole News & Guide. “They attract each other.”Graham said he expects no threat to this waxing bubble in the immediate future.But the flip side of this market, says study author David Viehman, is that “there are just no cheap condos anymore.”For proof, the newspaper cited one woman who bought a 450-square-foot condominium just two years ago for $280,000. She looked to sell this year, setting an aggressive price. But instead of a month, it went under contract in three days. She got $380,000.This increasingly rich soup of Jackson Hole is causing the middle class to relocate west of Teton Pass, in and near the communities of Alta, Driggs, and Victor, causing a building boom in those bedroom communities. In time, the existing shortage of skilled workers in Jackson Hole is expected to sharpen as opportunities become available in these bedroom communities.Sun Valley backs off home-size capSUN VALLEY, Idaho -Town officials in Sun Valley have backed off from a proposed law to limit house sizes to 12,000 square feet and increase setbacks by 5 feet.The Idaho Mountain Express reports that a comment by a Sun Valley resident drew large applause. “Sun Valley started out in 1936 as a gathering place for successful people,” said Dewayne Briscoe, a Sun Valley resident. “Successful people want their toys in life. They want to go to places where they can enjoy the fruits of their success. We’re sending a message worldwide, ‘Successful people, we don’t want you anymore.'”Council members said the proposal was motivated by a desire to protect neighbors from out-of-scale development, but the audience would have none of it. “A bunch of hooey,” responded Wally Huffman, general manager of the Sun Valley Co., which operates the ski area.The backdrop is that Idaho voters this fall were being asked to approve a sweeping law that would sharply restrict the ability of local governments to regulate development. In an attempt to beat the state mandate, Sun Valley officials hastily proposed 13 ordinances and 2 resolutions.These other regulations proposed to cap building heights in the commercial core at 64 feet. That would have remained unchanged, but the cap for multi-family projects with commercial on the first floor would have been reduced to 50 feet, and ordinary multi-family units to 44 feet. Individual single-family homes would have been lowered from 34 feet to 30 feet. Similar incremental limitations on setbacks were also proposed.Becky Zimmermann, a design consultant to the Sun Valley Co., panned the proposed restrictions as stifling of creativity and flexibility. Should the law be passed, she said, “I think you will go down in history as having legislated Sun Valley into stagnation.”In the face of the broad public outcry, the council retreated but also instructed planners to revisit the issue, this time with more sensitivity to nuances of the town’s individual neighborhoods.Partly at issue in all of this is the status of the Sun Valley Co. owners, Earl and Carol Holding. They have done relatively little real estate development with their property, and the fear in Sun Valley and Ketchum is that when the Holdings, who are both elderly, pass on, a new owner may have other ideas. City officials, said the Express, want more assurances of what would happen at Sun Valley should the resort be sold.”That ain’t going to happen,” Huffman told them.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado CO

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