City of Aspen selling its historic chalet-style home after years of trying |

City of Aspen selling its historic chalet-style home after years of trying

Municipal government will make a slight profit after several years of no interest from potential buyers

A light dusting of spring snow lies in the yard of 312 W. Hyman Avenue on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

After several attempts to unload what has been described as an under-performing asset for the city of Aspen, a single-family home on Hyman Avenue is going to be sold after 15 years of ownership.

Aspen City Council agreed Tuesday to sell the three-bedroom, two-bathroom house at 312 W. Hyman Ave. for $3.96 million, which is modestly higher than what the city bought it for in 2009 at $3.5 million.

Last fall the buyer, known only as Powderdayskiing LLC, made an offer without the property publicly listed.

Multiple offers have been made in recent months on the property without it being listed, according to the city’s real estate agent, Andrew Ernemann of Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty.

The local real estate market has seen unprecedented activity in the past year as people from all over the country have settled in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley during the pandemic.

“The inventory is at an all-time low in the modern market,” Ernemann said. “You cannot find vacant lots or smaller single-family homes downtown.”

With hardly anything left to buy of its kind, the historically designated chalet-style house is more desirable than it has been in the past.

The property has been on and off the market for the past several years, and has been traditionally used as affordable housing for individuals who qualify under Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority rules.

It was originally listed for $4.9 million, but was then reduced to $4.4 million in 2018 and then $3.95 million in 2019 before it was taken off the market last May.

During the initial listing, the property generated little interest and had no showings and only two offers to trade the property, according to Jeff Pendarvis, the city’s facilities and asset manager.

City Council had the property appraised by Aspen Appraisal Group in 2009 for $2.65 million.

Given the economy and state of the real estate market at that time, council decided to hold the property instead of taking less than the purchase price.

The property has been rented from 2009 until the summer of 2018, and then again in May 2020 to present.

As a rental, the property was producing a modest income and covers its current expenses, according to Pendarvis.

The contract requires the city to provide written notice of council approval to the buyer by May 12. A closing date is expected to be May 26.

The current tenant, assistant city manager Diane Foster, has a lease through Dec. 31.

Proceeds of the sale will be the $3.96 million, minus yet-to-determined closing costs and commissions (which will be 2%, or $76,000) to Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty.

The balance will be returned to the city’s 150 housing development fund.

The cumulative limitations for renovation, or expansion, due to the property’s historic designation, the location on the property of the existing house, and the proximity to the large trees that line the alley make the property less desirable for investors and developers than some other opportunities in the community, according to Pendarvis.

Two Aspen property owners were under contract to buy the house for $3.8 million in 2019, but they walked away from the deal because limitations on what can be done with the property didn’t allow for their redevelopment plans.

The city bought the property from Jordie Gerberg because he planned to sell it and have it demolished to make way for a new home.

In a 3-2 vote, council in 2007 designated the property historic, which prevented it from being torn down. Historic preservation officials noted the home’s architecture reflects the history of Aspen as it became a ski resort. The chalet-style, two-story house was built in 1956.

The house cannot be torn down or significantly altered. But additional square footage is allowed above and below ground.

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