Million-dollar momentum in the midvalley | AspenTimes.com

Million-dollar momentum in the midvalley

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

Aspen, CO ColoradoBASALT A strong real estate market combined with growth restrictions in the midvalley sent sales prices of single-family homes in the Willits subdivision soaring above $1 million this month.A house built in 2003 that is nearly 3,000 square feet sold for its asking price of $1.1 million on Jan. 2, according to information in the Aspen Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service. The house has four bedrooms and 3 1/2 bathrooms. It also has a one-bedroom apartment over the garage – a legal accessory dwelling unit.The house was originally listed for $875,000 when it went on the market in May 2006, according to Wendy Lucas, the owner of Wendy Lucas & Co. Lucas is the exclusive listing agent for the developers of Willits. Although she didn’t have the listing on this latest resale, she pays sharp attention to all activity in Willits.Willits is almost a town within a town. It is in west Basalt, upvalley from the City Market. When completed, it will feature 550 single-family homes, townhouses and condominiums in residential neighborhoods wrapped around a town center with 400 lofts and condos, and 250,000 square feet of commercial space.

Lucas said the seller of the house in Juniper Court, another real estate agent, increased her asking price by $225,000 in November. Lucas suspects some of the increase was a reaction to the Basalt town government’s tough stance against growth.”With the no-growth attitude of some of the deep thinkers in Basalt, there is more value today then there was before,” Lucas said. “When you restrict building prospects, values are going to go up.”It’s a classic debate that dribbled downvalley from Aspen and Pitkin County. Critics of growth control contend that the restrictions drove up Aspen prices.Mick Ireland, who left office as a Pitkin County commissioner this month, always countered that prices aren’t that different in Pitkin County, with controls, than they are in Eagle County and Vail, where there aren’t as many controls.Lucas acknowledged that prices were headed toward the $1 million barrier in Willits. She feels Basalt’s positions accelerated the appreciation.

The Basalt Town Council majority was prepared to reject two big development projects recently. The Roaring Fork Club proposed adding 32 luxury cabins, 18 single-family homes and 36 affordable housing units. Sopris Chase, by the Basalt High School, proposed 115 free-market and affordable residences.In both cases, the developers withdrew their plans when it was apparent the council would deny the applications.In addition, the review of several other projects have dragged on for months. Some town council members maintain they are following the will of voters by taking closer looks at development.Regardless of whether there is a correlation between the government’s actions and midvalley home prices, the appreciation is undeniable. The previous high sale for a single-family home in Willits was $770,000, according to Lucas’ records.The $1.1 million sale wasn’t a fluke. A new home on Lake Court in Willits is under contract for $1,175,000. The appreciation in the area, combined with the price of building materials, makes it likely that all new homes in the growing community will top $1 million, Lucas said.

Despite being the listing broker for a substantial number of residences in Willits, Lucas said she isn’t thrilled with homes there breaking the $1 million barrier. The initial sales in the subdivision were typically to young families with small children.Lucas said she and Willits developer Michael Lipkin were proud that the area provided a free-market opportunity for so many young professionals. Those buyers won’t be able to afford a $1 million home, she said, so they will have to buy a townhouse or condominium, or move farther downvalley. She expects more second-home owners to be among the Willits buyers.”This type of pricing is going to create a neighborhood that I haven’t dealt with in the past,” she said.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com.

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