Pitkin County Commissioners balk at lowering building’s value | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County Commissioners balk at lowering building’s value

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times
County commissioners denied an appeal by Bleeker Mill Development, which owns the building under construction at the corner of Mill and Bleeker streets, to lower the value from $6.6 million to $4.9 million.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

The owners of a building under construction on North Mill Street will have to pay another $16,400 in property taxes after failing to convince county commissioners that the Assessor’s Office overvalued the property.

Pitkin County commissioners voted 2-1 Tuesday in favor of upholding a recommendation by the Assessor’s Office calling for denial of the appeal by Bleeker Mill Development, which currently is redeveloping the property at the corner of North Mill and Bleeker streets, where the Jerome Professional Building once stood.

Commissioners Patti Clapper and Michael Owsley voted in favor; George Newman cast the dissenting vote shortly after his motion failed. That motion would have applied the same property value from 2013, $4,912,200, for 2014, which is $6.6 million. Commissioners Steve Child and Rachel Richards did not attend the hearing.

After the hearing, Aspen attorney Greg Gordon, counsel for Bleeker Mill Development, said he intends to appeal the matter to the state, or he will try to settle it with the Assessor’s Office.

Gordon argued that the price of the property was inflated because the county, after appraising it Jan. 1, 2013, at $4.9 million did a special appraisal exactly one year later, after the Jerome Professional Building had been razed. Typically, the county conducts property assessments only during odd-numbered years.

Gordon said it was curious that a vacant lot without a profit-generating building could be worth more than one that a year earlier had a commercial structure.

Clapper, however, said the rights to construct a new mixed-use building were in place at the time of the January 2014 assessment. Likewise, Deputy Assessor Larry Fite said he compared the value of the land to other vacant lots throughout Aspen, which is how he arrived at the $6.6 million figure.

In a memo explaining the Assessor’s Officer position, Fife wrote:

“This is an example that clearly illustrates the value of an approved development parcel being greater than the value of the underdeveloped property that preceded it.”