Historic Child ranch for sale for $41M | AspenTimes.com

Historic Child ranch for sale for $41M

www.joshuaco.comThe Child ranch on Capitol Creek Road is nestled against the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. The ranch is listed for sale at $41 million.

OLD SNOWMASS – The Capitol Creek cattle ranch that was owned and operated for decades by Bob and Tee Child was listed for sale this week for $41 million.

Four of the Childs’ six children are selling their interest in the ranch – a total of 1,321 acres and five lots for single-family homes that can be as large as 5,000 square feet, according to Tom Latousek, the manager of the ranch division at Joshua and Co., which has the listing.

“It’s the largest ranch for sale in the upper valley,” Latousek said. “That sort of elbow room really appeals to today’s ranch buyers.”

It’s not just the size that makes the property appealing. The setting of the ranch itself and the scenery surrounding it are stunning – even without the embellishment that usually accompanies real estate listings. The ranch is 4.5 miles up Capitol Creek Road, off the beaten path and nestled against the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness.

The ranch is about 30 minutes away from Aspen, and yet “it feels like a world away,” Latousek said. “Your neighbors are deer and elk.”

The ranch has in-your-face views of Mount Sopris, Hell Roaring Ridge and Haystack Mountain, which Bob and Tee Child battled to prevent getting turned into a ski area. The Childs bought the ranch in 1961. Bob Child went on become a multi-term Pitkin County commissioner with a strong interest in preserving agricultural operations and preventing rampant growth.

Two of their children, Steve and Nancy Child, are holding onto their interests in the ranch, according to Latousek. Steve, who lives on the ranch and runs a cattle operation, retains about 130 acres. His sister retains 35 acres.

The property’s development potential is severely limited by conservation easements held jointly by Pitkin County Open Space and Trails and the Aspen Valley Land Trust.

“The easements run with the land,” said program director Dale Will. That means any buyer of the ranch much abide by the terms.

The Child family worked with Pitkin County in 2003 to craft a deal on conservation and limited development that became a model for other large properties, Will said. In separate but parallel reviews, the conservation easements were arranged and the land-use approvals were granted and vested, Will said.

“This was the first time that community development and open space worked closely,” he said.

The county open space program paid $1.5 million in 2003 for a conservation easement on 740 acres of the ranch. An option was placed on obtaining a conservation easement on another 751 acres. That will be exercised this year.

“Presently we’re working to buff that out with the Childs,” Will said.

The option price is $1.5 million, but that will likely be reduced by the sale of transferable development rights by the family, Will said.

As part of the agreement, the family received approval for seven 35-acre lots. Six of those lots have one-acre building envelopes. The seventh has two existing residences and a 3.9-acre building envelop which allows two residences with a combined floor area of 5,000 square feet, according to the open space program’s records. All homes are restricted to no more than 5,000 square feet.

“This was a very significant deal when it happened,” Will said.

The model was used by the open space program and landowners to partially conserve the Harvey Ranch, Cold Mountain Ranch and the Grange Ranch. In each case, the conservation easements allow continued ranching and agricultural operations.

While the negotiated deal was good for both sides and provided a great model for future conservation, the news that the ranch will pass out of the hands of the Child family was disheartening for Will.

“This day was inevitable but it’s still sad in a way,” he said.

Steve Child couldn’t be reached for comment.

Latousek said the time to list the ranch for sale had come for most of the family. Their decision wasn’t really influenced by the stabilization of the real estate market in the Aspen area, he said. There is a relatively small pool of prospective buyers for this type of property regardless of the timing.

The ranch will likely be purchased by a single owner and used as a family compound, according to Latousek. Activities such as hunting, fishing and horseback riding – which abound on the ranch – will likely be key selling points, he said.


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