More Vail developers set to Hunt in valley |

More Vail developers set to Hunt in valley

The easy pickings are gone in the Eagle Valley, so some developers have turned their attention to the Roaring Fork area for ranches and large pieces of land, according to a Vail-based real estate investor.Greg Amsden of AMS Development Inc. heads a group that started scouring the Roaring Fork Valley earlier this summer. The group made offers on two large properties in this valley only to see them both fall through before reaching a deal on the Hunt Ranch.The group placed an option on the 565-acre property in Missouri Heights and intends to close soon on the purchase.Amsden said property as large as the Hunt Ranch or one with as much development potential can’t be found anymore in Eagle County. A Vail-based Realtor unaffiliated with Amsden confirmed that large acreages are rare there because the valley is more narrow and the ranches that existed have already been snatched up and developed.”The Roaring Fork Valley has a little more openness,” Amsden said. “It’s really gotten developed in the Eagle Valley.”In contrast, the Hunt Ranch features an irrigated meadow surrounded by low hills. It has easy access three miles off Highway 82, and Garfield County land-use regulations would allow development of up to 94 homes.The Roaring Fork Valley hasn’t exactly lacked for developers over the past few decades. However, Amsden’s observations indicate there might be an accelerated push to acquire the remaining ranches and open lands in places such as Missouri Heights, around Carbondale and in the lower Colorado Valley.In the Roaring Fork Valley’s hot real estate market, several ranches have been bought in recent months. When Dick Hunt put his ranch on the market earlier this summer, neighbors feared it would be converted into another high-density subdivision.Amsden said it is too soon to say exactly what his group will propose. The group has hired Otak of Carbondale to prepare a land-use plan.The goal is to preserve a 220-acre irrigated pasture in the middle of the ranch, he said. Homes will be on the perimeter of that pasture, to the north, on an upper parcel on the east side and some on the west. He said he has talked to the Strang family, which owns the ranch to the west, about preserving contiguous lands as open space. The Strangs have placed conservation easements on much of their ranch, restricting the development potential.The Hunt Ranch is currently leased to operators that raise hay during summers and run cattle on the spread in winters. Amsden said his group is interested in exploring ongoing agriculture uses.Two old houses on the ranch will be preserved, and the prospective owners will look into preserving the barn. It may have to be taken apart and reassembled elsewhere, he said.Amsden said his group will likely propose fewer home lots than Garfield County allows. Preliminarily the group is thinking of pricing the two- to four-acre lots at between $250,000 and $400,000. A handful of larger equestrian lots, where people can have horses, will also be considered.He suspects around 80 percent of buyers will be full-time Roaring Fork Valley residents. “You know there’s a migration down out of Aspen,” he said. Missouri Heights has been popular with the migrators because people can buy a few acres with their homes.Amsden envisioned the majority of homes on Hunt Ranch being built as between 3,000 and 4,000 square feet. “We’re not after the trophy-home style,” he said.He stressed that his group isn’t interested in developing a golf project. “We want to limit disturbance on that ranch,” he said.He’s going to take a crack at earning support from neighbors within the next month. Amsden said people in surrounding subdivisions will be sent a letter within the next couple of weeks inviting them to a meeting that will likely take place in October.More details of the development plan will be unveiled then, he said.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is

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