Is Aspen or Vail to blame?
July 13, 2006
Is Colorado facing Aspenization or Vailization?It depends on your perspective. Eagle County commissioners Peter Runyon and Arn Menconi use the phrase “Aspenization” to describe what’s happening to the Eagle Valley. Locals are being driven farther and farther downvalley – away from Vail and Avon, and closer to Eagle and Gypsum – in search of affordable housing. Menconi knows from first-hand experience that a 1,000 square foot condo that cost under $200,000 about five years ago now sells for $450,000.Menconi said the Eagle Valley is now experiencing the same phenomena as the Roaring Fork Valley did years ago. Aspen real estate prices drove the working class, then the middle class, out of Aspen in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s to Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and points west.The displacement of locals by wealthy second-home owners is a widespread and well-documented problem. “There is a Cornell professor out there who refers to it as the Aspen effect,” Runyon said at a joint meeting between the Eagle and Pitkin county commissioners last month.Pitkin County Commissioner Mick Ireland argued at that meeting that it could just as easily be labeled the Vail effect. He argues that real estate prices in the Vail area have soared to close to the same level as the Aspen area, without strict growth control in place.The difference is Pitkin County has preserved more open land and required developers to provide more affordable housing, Ireland has noted in the past.- Scott Condon