Timeshares could get further scrutiny by city | AspenTimes.com

Timeshares could get further scrutiny by city

Aspen’s Economic Sustainability Committee may reconvene to study the impacts of local timeshares on tourism.

At Thursday’s meeting of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association board of directors, a representative of the committee said the group may look into studying the effects of fractional-ownership units. The committee, a joint effort formed by ACRA, the city and the Aspen Institute, was first convened two years ago. The group disbanded after it produced an economic sustainability report for Aspen in September 2002.

Many timeshares in town are individually owned but are made available for short-term rental whenever they aren’t used by their owners. That arrangement may not be welcoming to short-term tourists, said Stan Clauson, the committee’s chair.

He also noted that the timeshares often lead to ground-floor offices in Aspen’s commercial core to advertise the real estate.

The committee noted in its report that Aspen has deteriorating lodging for tourists, and that an additional study of local timeshares may help officials make decisions about future developments.

“A lot of these have been approved and produced without considering their economic impacts on the town 20 years from now,” said Rick Jones, a local accountant and ACRA board chairman. “At Highlands the change from short-term to interval has affected the ambiance out there from a tourist perspective, I think.”

“A timeshare assessment might be useful,” said Aspen Mayor Helen Klanderud, who also sits on the ACRA board. “I know it’s a concern of mine – what’s the effect of fractional ownership? It would be a good use of time for the committee.”

ACRA board member Mike Taets, president of Wells Fargo Bank in Aspen, said the group should take a look at timeshares that were completed before Sept. 11, and those that were not. After Sept. 11, it may be very difficult to obtain financing for a timeshare development.

“I don’t know where you’d go to find financing for timeshare projects anymore,” he said.

Although there is some question of whether to re-form the economic sustainability committee, the ACRA board seemed to favor at least asking the city and the Aspen Institute if the committee could reconvene. Many ACRA board members also were interested in the proposal to look into timeshares’ effects.

Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com

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