My little piece of new Basalt | AspenTimes.com

My little piece of new Basalt

Janet Urquhart

Aspen,CO ColoradoBe it ever so humble, there’s no place like a home in the midvalley – gateway to Aspen.Yeah, headlines of $1 million homes in the midvalley this week have me gleaming like a dirt pimp about to bulldoze the national forest for a presold enclave of Aspen starter castles.It’s only a matter of time before my little abode gets annexed into land-grubbing Basalt and my new ZIP code puts a zip in its appraised value. Heck, I’m making money as I write this, even with my Carbondale address in unincorporated Eagle County. And my home is physically closer to Basalt than Carbondale, if you count far-flung Willits as part of Basalt. Who are they kidding – Willits is in El Jebel.The good news is, El Jebel is the new Basalt.If you don’t believe me, check out the wait for dinner at an El Jebel restaurant these days.Clearly, it’s no secret to the developers, given the townhomes and condos priced in the high six figures-plus that are rising on both sides of the highway in El Jebel. That’s right, El Jebel – the pit stop between Basalt and Carbondale best known for its most prominent attraction – the Wendy’s stoplight. No matter where you go in El Jebel, the “Wendy’s stoplight” figures into the equation.Aspen doesn’t have a Wendy’s, by the way. Neither does old Basalt.But it’s not the Wendy’s that will put El Jebel in the pages of The New York Times as the latest best-kept-secret-until-we-told-you-about-it town in Colorado. It’s Aspen that will put El Jebel on the map, via Basalt.Finally, the Reagan administration’s trickle-down theory of economics is going to trickle down to me. And it only took 20-plus years.Let me explain.Aspen rose to glory, but then imploded on its own success. All its favorite places are disappearing, and so are the locals. They all migrated to Basalt, which became the new Aspen, sans the skiing hassles, Hummer envy and twiggy women in furry boots.Suddenly, the “hill district” of Basalt was the new Red Mountain, with quaint little homes disappearing to make way for obnoxious, bigger ones. An old downtown bar became an upscale bistro, new boutiques popped up along the quaint two-block stretch of “old town” and suddenly, the town needed parking regulations. In came a pricey golf course and the requisite timeshares to go with it. The downtown has been transformed with new, big buildings that render it unrecognizable from its former, sleepy self.Sound familiar?El Jebel is next, and I’d think it a real shame except I’m poised to cash in on it.I’m sitting on a gold mine. That’s right, a tear-down.It’s quintessential Aspen – a nice lot with a perfectly functional house that any buyer who wins the bidding war for it will raze the second the title clears. Heck, I’ve had thoughts about tearing it down myself, when I’m not wrestling with illusions of remodeling grandeur.For a while there, I was gripped by home-improvement fever – I was going to turn this manufactured home (a single-wide trailer, minus the wheels) – into an Architectural Digest showcase. With midvalley, single-family lots getting rarer than Aspen socialites without a Botox addiction, I figured fresh paint alone might double its value.Now I’m thinking the tacky wallpaper and hole in the bathroom wall can stay. Unless I fall through the floor, this place is perfect just the way it is.I could already be a millionaire, for all I know.I’d flip it right now, but for one, troubling hitch on the road to financial windfall: I’d have to move.And I’m not sure I could even afford Carbondale, which is becoming the new El Jebel.Janet Urquhart is pretty sure we’ll all be living in Kansas, eventually. Until then, she can be reached at janet@aspentimes.com.

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