City is poised to adopt new regulations for time shares | AspenTimes.com

City is poised to adopt new regulations for time shares

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen is embracing the resurgence of time-share properties in the lodging industry with an updated section of its land-use code that is now before the City Council.

Council members took a look at most of the new regulations on Monday, but delayed action until Sept. 23, when a key section of the ordinance ? impact fees to be levied on time-share projects ? will be ready for review.

With various local lodge owners reportedly eyeing the advantages of converting their units to time shares or a fractional-ownership arrangement, city planners and an outside consultant began work last year to update the antiquated section of the city code devoted to such properties.

The new regulations cover the consumer-protection issues contained in the old code, but also address actual operation of time shares with an eye toward increasing tourism and encouraging reinvestment in local lodges.

The updated code contains a number of provisions to ensure time-share units function much like standard short-term lodging units, and that time-share projects retain the look and feel of a hotel.

The regulations require time-share properties to have a staffed, on-site front desk located in a lobby, for example, and that the units be made available to short-term rental whenever they aren?t used by their owners. An individual walking in off the street should be able to book an available room or suite.

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Time shares cannot be sold in less than one-seventh shares, according to the new regulations, and owners cannot spend more than 30 consecutive days in a unit.

The provision means ?these units will turn over. They won?t act like a long-term residence,? said planning consultant Alan Richman, who helped draft the new regulations.

Any time-share lodge in the commercial core cannot have guest rooms on the ground floor, but is to instead put restaurant, bar or retail facilities at the street level, according to the code.

Any existing property where conversion to a time-share project is proposed must be upgraded and modernized to an extent determined through the land-use review process.

Although the code establishes physical and operational requirements for time shares, it gives the city the ability to allow deviations from the new rules.

?We know that one size does not fit all in time-share development,? Richman said. ?We?re trying to be flexible. We recognize this is a new industry ? this is an evolving industry.?

The new code requires large time-share projects to win approval through the city?s planned-unit development review process, but it allows for ?exempt time sharing? for small projects. Single-family homes, duplexes and multifamily buildings of no more than six units are allowed to convert to time shares if they are located at Aspen Highlands Village or in Aspen?s lodge/tourist/residential zone.

That means time shares are not a permitted use for properties in what are strictly residential areas.

?We didn?t want to encourage our residential neighborhoods to convert to time share,? Richman said.

Still to come is a chapter in the code regarding time-share impact fees. The fees are to help the city defray the costs associated with developments that won?t produce as much sales tax revenues as traditional hotels and lodges.

When the City Council OK?d the 51-suite Hyatt Grand Aspen early this year, the approval included a negotiated impact fee of $4,022 per share sold in the project, totaling $4.1 million.

The hotel is yet to be constructed. Already operating is the Ritz-Carlton Club, a fractional-ownership project at Aspen Highlands Village. It was approved by Pitkin County and then annexed into the city.

The Boomerang Lodge has also received approval to expand with new, fractional-ownership units and the redevelopment of the vacant Aspen Manor as a time-share development has been proposed.

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