Vail Valley: What’s open space worth? |

Vail Valley: What’s open space worth?

Open space is valued at $3,500 an acre. Who might buy land they cannot develop is an entirely different matter, said Eagle County Assessor Mark Chapin.

Chapin and his staff were curious about what open space is worth, so they talked to local appraisers in all sorts of resort areas. Here’s what they learned:

When someone buys land for open space, they buy the land and strip away the development rights.

Eagle County spent $12,000 an acre in open space funds for the Eaton parce – now known as the Eagle River Preserve in Edwards. They paid the same for the Gates ranch in Burns and Bair Ranch in western Eagle County.

The families can still ranch the land, but no one can develop it.

The development rights comprise about 75 percent of a property’s value, Chapin said. Its value as open space is the other 25 percent. Large parcels are worth between $9,000 and $30,000 an acre on the open market, depending on where they are, Chapin said.

Around here, if you calculate 25 percent of the purchase price in each case, the open space is worth $3,600 an acre as a median price, and $3,700 as a mean price, Chapin said.

The Eagle County’s Assessor’s office rounded down to $3,500 an acre as the value for dedicated open space in Eagle County.

“When open space is appraised, that what it’s worth,” Chapin said. “If it can be developed it’s worth 75 percent more.”

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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