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Redstone Ruby of the Rockies on solid ground

Carolyn SackariasonAspen Times WeeklyAspen, CO Colorado
Jordan Curet The Aspen Times
ALL | The Aspen Times

REDSTONE Known as the Ruby of the Rockies, the unicorporated town of Redstone has become a pot of gold for some property owners as land prices have reached the half a million dollar mark.And even though real estate prices have risen in recent years, Redstone can still be considered one of the last frontiers in Pitkin County when it comes to finding a relatively affordable piece of property.You can find riverfront acreage for $400,000 and if you are in Basalt or Carbondale, you might add a zero to that, said Jeff Bier, a broker for Mason Morse Real Estate in Redstone. Marble and the Crystal River Valley have been under the radar for a while, but now people are finding value in this area.Steve Miller, an appraiser in the Pitkin County assessors office, noticed last year that average home prices in Redstone substantially increased, even in funky neighborhoods traditionally occupied by worker bees.

I noticed that sales were coming in at nothing under $500,000, he said, adding many of the addresses listed on the transactions were from out of state. And values are continuing to stay high.Miller said up until last year, average home prices hovered between $300,000 and $400,000, before [property values in] Basalt and Carbondale went through the roof.In the last two years, eight properties in Redstone have sold for more than $1 million, with one closing for $3.2 million in January 2007. This month a property closed at $2 million. Also during the last two years, 22 properties sold for more than $500,000.Bier noted that most properties selling for more than $1 million are between 3,500 and 5,000 square feet, and are typically located along the Crystal River.

You can get a single-family home on a nice piece of acreage for the same price as a condo in Carbondale, Bier said. For years Redstone primarily was as a place where employees who work in the communities of the Roaring Fork Valley lived affordably. But like the rest of the valley, Redstone has become a second-home market where people from California, Texas, Florida and the Midwest are buying properties mostly for summer use.With a population of about 90 people in the summer and 50 in the winter, Redstone hasnt lost its small-town mountain character. The main boulevard is home to a general store, a couple of cafes, an antique shop, and arts and crafts boutiques. Children play in the streets and tourists wander in and out of shops, with many bicyclists pedaling into town for a quick bite to eat before making the return trek back down Highway 133.Beyond the main drag of Redstone, large homes with gates and no trespassing signs loom over the Crystal River.

There are quite a few second-home owners here, Bier said, adding that Redstone was marketed decades ago as a getaway destination, when plans were in the works to make it a year-round resort.Plus, there are a handful of people who have cashed in on their investments in Aspen to get more bang for their buck in Redstone. Bier said he recently had a couple sell their condominium in Aspen, and then turn around and a buy a 6,000-square-foot property on the river in Redstone.There were 47 real estate transactions in Redstone over the past two years, according to Miller.Of all of those sales, only four of them sold for less than our current value, he said, adding the assessors office will re-appraise the properties in Redstone by May 2009. That alone tells you prices are going up.

In 2007, real estate transactions in Redstone brought in $86,000 in property tax revenue for Pitkin County, according to the assessors office. Thats only $1,000 more than what Redstones commercial district brought in for Pitkin Countys sales tax revenue, according to Debe Nelson, the countys finance director.Real estate prices may be going up or holding steady, but like the rest of the Roaring Fork Valley, the market is starting to slow as a result of the economy and rising fuel prices, Bier said. Because Redstone is located 16 miles from Carbondale, people are feeling the pinch of high gas prices and are factoring that in to their potential purchases.In the whole valley, the number of sales is really off, Bier said, adding that many people who have property on the market are holding out for their listed price. Bier said he has between 15 and 20 properties currently listed for sale in the Crystal River Valley, which is typical.

And new home construction has slowed as well because of rising material and labor costs. Bier said he knows of a few property owners who have secured permits to build in Redstone, but have been forced to put the property up for sale because of construction costs.Construction is slow right now, Bier said. They cant afford to build.Miller said many of the subdivisions in Redstone are nearly built out; six new houses have been built in Redstone in the last year, Miller noted.While there might not be a lot of room left in Redstones subdivisions, the rest of the area has plenty of land left to build on.Pitkin County Manager Hilary Fletcher said she expects to see Redstone continue to be a place for a weekend getaway.I do think its changing, she said. I think you are seeing more people in the Crystal River Valley.csack@aspentimes.com


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