Aspen area real estate sales near $1.5 billion in 2014 | AspenTimes.com

Aspen area real estate sales near $1.5 billion in 2014

A downtown Aspen penthouse sells for $3,100 a square foot, an outside developer stays bullish on commercial property, and total sales approach $1.5 billion.

Those were among the highlights of the Aspen-area's real estate scene in 2014, one that also saw Douglas Elliman Real Estate, the largest brokerage in New York, buy Joshua & Co., one of Aspen's major realty firms.

"Everybody is enjoying a good year," said broker Steven Shane of Shane Aspen Real Estate."I've sold twice as much real estate this year as I did last year. It was certainly weighted toward higher-end properties."

Realtor Tim Estin on Friday put out his summary for 2014, basing his end-of-the year stats through Dec. 22. Estin's report noted a "major spike" in Aspen home sales that eclipsed the $7.5 million mark. And Shane said that Aspen proper — which includes all of Aspen and such surrounding areas Red Mountain, Smuggler Mountain, Buttermilk, East Aspen and McLain Flats Road — saw 35 sales north of $7.5 million as of Friday. For the entire 2013, there were 19 sales of at least $7.5 million for the same area, Shane said, noting a strong stock market has inspired more confidence among both buyers and sellers, with more speculation building underway, homes being bought quicker, and a shrinking inventory.

INTERACTIVE MAP OF TOP SALES IN ASPEN

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"Developers and spec builders are back full throttle," he said. "There are a couple of guys, one in commercial and one in residential, that are buying everything they can get their hands on that they can redevelop. And we have limited inventory and anything that's new and good on the residential side sells immediately."

Shane was referring to Mark Hunt as the commercial buyer; he declined to identify the residential buyer to whom he referred.

Among the commercial buildings Hunt acquired this year — since 2012 he's gobbled up nearly $100 million in downtown properties — were the Seguin Building on East Hopkins Avenue for $4.25 million, two retail units in the Paragon Building on East Hyman Avenue for $5 million, the Aspen Daily News building on East Hopkins Avenue for $10 million, and the Conoco gas station building on East Main Street for $6 million.

Hunt has revealed plans to build affordable lodging at the service station site, as well the site of the existing Buckhorn Arms building, which is home to Johnny McGuire's Deli and Domino's Pizza at 730 E. Cooper Ave. Those plans are contingent on city approval.

Aspen City Council passed an ordinance two years ago banning the construction of penthouses in the downtown core, but the ones that have been built attracted big dollars in 2014. That included the November sale of a penthouse, which is located on the top floor of the Muse Building on Hyman Avenue, for $15.8 million. The sale of the 5,053-square-feet residence translated to more than $3,100 a square foot, a figure that observers considered a record amount for a penthouse.

"It's topping out toward one of the highest prices per square foot in the downtown core," broker Lex Tarumianz, who along with Craig Morris represented the seller, told The Aspen Times after the deal closed.

Estin's report noted that Aspen condo sales rose from $976 per square foot in 2013 to $1,176 this year, "skewed perhaps disproportionately higher specifically by newer built and therefore, higher priced, condo sales."

Here's a look at Pitkin County's 13 real estate transactions that eclipsed the $12 million mark in 2014 (see related interactive map at the bottom of this page), as of Sunday:

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