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The construction industry in Aspen and Pitkin County enjoyed another big year in 2000.
Year-end tallies for construction valuation by the Aspen/Pitkin County Building Department show a total valuation of $181 million in the commercial and residential sectors. In 1999, the number was $192 million.
While the figures show a dip, it’s only on paper and reflects the fact that $24 million worth of commercial building permits were approved in 1999, but only $1.4 million worth were approved in 2000.
Included in that $24 million figure are building permits for the Aspen Highlands Village, a $230 million project.
The valuation numbers are taken from building permit applications filled out by contractors, and the cost of the building permit depends on the stated valuation.
A truer reflection of the brisk pace of construction can be seen in residential building permits – the biggest construction sector in the city and county. They increased $11 million from 1999 to 2000.
None of the figures include residential construction inside the town of Snowmass Village or in the portion of Basalt inside Pitkin County. Snowmass has seen high levels of new luxury residential construction in The Pines and Two Creeks neighborhoods the past several years.
While the construction valuation numbers provided by the Aspen/Pitkin building department are useful to compare activity from one year to the next, they tend to understate the true dollar value of the construction taking place in the upper valley.
As far the building department is concerned, the contractors only need to provide a cost that reflects a valuation of at least $120 a square foot. Most residential construction jobs in the upper valley cost two to three times that amount per square foot and sometimes can be much higher.
There is no independent confirmation of the actual value of construction in Pitkin County. While the county assessor eventually places a value on the finished home, that takes into account many factors besides the quality of construction, such as location and views.
The value of new residential construction in the city and the county in 2000 was $126 million. In 1999, it was $115 million, and in 1998, it was $86 million.
Remodeling of homes is also a big category in the city and county. There were $35 million worth of renovations in 2000. In 1999, the figure was $41 million. In 1998, it was $40 million.
The biggest change from 1999 to 2000 came in the commercial building sector. In 2000, only $1.4 million worth of commercial building permits were issued in Aspen and Pitkin County. In 1999, there was $24 million worth of commercial permits issued. In 1998, the figure was $14 million.
Research done by Pitkin County shows that there are at least 2,000 construction workers on job sites in the upper valley.
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