| Earthmovers rest along the
side of Highway 550 , just south of Needles, this week.
A number of projects have
broken ground lately in the corridor, and the vast majority
of them will be high end, a trend that has dominated
the north end of La Plata County lately./Photo by Todd Newcomer.
In recent months, all eyes have been leveled
at development proposed on the outskirts of Durango. Meanwhile,
utilities are being extended, roads are being cut and ground
is being broken on a host of projects in north La Plata County.
That area is picking up pace in terms of new construction, and
with one notable exception, it is highly exclusive in nature.
More than 10 individual projects are currently proceeding in
north La Plata County. On the one end, they have names like
Windom Ranch, Two Dogs and Silverpick. On the other, they are
Tamarron and Durango Mountain Resort.
The resort bargain bin?
Gina Piccoli, broker-owner of Coldwell Banker Heritage House
Realtors, said that from a development and real estate perspective,
activity has returned to the area surrounding DMR after a couple
of flat years. “There wasn’t a lot of inventory
up there,” she said. “Over the last couple years,
it really dwindled in terms of what you could find.”
Piccoli said that recently the market has been infused with
some product and that it is predominantly high-end construction
and land catering to second homeowners. With many prices in
the million dollar-plus realm, she noted, “For the most
part, the area has increased in pricing, and the new stuff has
all been quite expensive.”
However, while the numbers may be high relative to Durango,
they are inexpensive compared with many other Colorado resort
areas, a factor Piccoli credits for the recent upswing.
“When you compare it to trying to buy something in Telluride
or Aspen, it’s a bargain,” she said. “That
might be what’s driving the market right now.”
Aiming for second homeowners
Tamarron is one area of north La Plata County that is working
to generate an exclusive appeal. To this end, the resort remodeled
its existing 18-hole golf course and the existing Tamarron Lodge.
Construction also is under way on an additional nine holes and
a 20,000-square-foot clubhouse/recreation center that will be
called the Glacier Club at Tamarron. The new nine holes and
clubhouse will be available only to equity members. Directly
tied to these upgrades is the planned construction of 350 high-end
units, half of them townhomes and the remainder single-family
Patric Flinn, director of golf and operations for the Glacier
Club at Tamarron, said he recognizes that a large amount of
development is happening in his neighborhood. However, he said
that the Glacier Club at Tamarron’s amenities will set
it apart. “There’s a lot going on up here,”
Flinn said. “But the one thing we have that’s a
giant advantage over everyone is that we will have 27 holes
of world-class golf.”
Flinn said that the Glacier Club at Tamarron is targeting second
homeowners from locales like Phoenix, Scottsdale and Dallas
and offering the appeal of a more temperate summer climate.
He noted that relative to other similar developments throughout
the region, the Glacier Club at Tamarron will set a new high
mark in terms of exclusivity.
“Given the places that we have in the area that are golf
course and real estate combinations, we’re definitely
going to be at the high end,” he said. “We are obviously
pushing the private club appeal.”
|Snow begins to melt off a
new fire hydrant, marking the future spot of devleopment,
along Highway 550 near Needles on Tuesday./Photo by Todd
A more affordable angle
With a mind to Tamarron and several other smaller projects
in the vicinity, Gary Derck, DMR chief executive officer, agreed
that for the most part development in the north valley is of
a high-end nature right now. However, he said that DMR is not
in the business of upscale development currently and sees itself
marketing more affordable townhomes and lots.
“Most of what’s going on in the north county is
really high end,” Derck said. “We tend to see our
role as providing something that’s a little more affordable
than a Tamarron or some of the others that are up in the stratosphere.”
Recently, DMR set its 20-year master plan in motion –
a mix of single-family homesites, townhomes, and hotel and shop
space. In total, 1,649 units are planned as well as 410,000
square feet of new commercial space. The ambitious proposal
includes six separate villages on 612 acres in the vicinity
of the resort.
In late September, ground was broken on Tacoma Village across
the highway from the resort’s main entrance. The first
phase includes construction of 16 townhomes with prices ranging
from $350,000 to $500,000. The resort has already seen strong
presale interest in the townhomes and nearby lots. Still, Derck
said that the resort is taking it slow and being realistic about
the number of units that will sell in coming years.
“I don’t think anyone up and down the corridor
has huge expectations for absorption,” he said. “We’re
hoping to move 20 units a year. Some of the other projects may
see two units a year.”
Slicing up the pie
In spite of an apparent surge in north county construction,
Derck said that each development appears to be doing its own
thing, and that competition remains mild. “I think that
right now everybody’s picked their niche, and as far as
I’m aware, nobody’s stepping on anyone else’s
toe,” he said
However, which developments have chosen the right niche will
be determined over time, he said.
“We’ll know three or four years from now which
of these was the right niche,” Derck said.
Regardless, both Derck and Piccoli agreed that the changes
are positive for north La Plata County and the greater Durango
Mountain Resort area.
“Million-dollar properties will probably take a while
to be absorbed,” Piccoli said. “But I think the
good news is that people are starting to take Purgatory seriously.”
Derck concluded that growth in the region is healthy, saying,
“I see it as encouraging. It’s allowing us to have
restaurants and other amenities on more than a seasonal basis.
It’s helping us get closer to becoming a year-round resort