Corrugated tin stirs up Jackson

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – Visions of the landscape – and how people live in it – are clashing in Jackson Hole. At issue is the architecture of a new housing complex that contains free-market and deed-restricted employee housing.

Following a current architectural theme, the homes in the complex called 810 West are sheathed in shiny corrugated metal. Such metal is better reserved for use in pigpens, said one letter writer to theJackson Hole News & Guide. Another woman, faced with the alternative of living in those homes or moving to Montana, chose the latter. Yet another woman accused planners of being at a cocktail party when the development was approved.

The architect, Stephen Dynia, accuses critics of being frozen in “Disneyland, Jackson – the Frontier Land.” He suggests the reality of Western architecture is something different than the myth – that needs for functionality have often directed use of corrugated metal, such as for grain silos and Quonset huts.

“It has something to do with place, and it’s based on usefulness,” he told theJackson Hole News & Guide. “It’s not trying to look like an Arts and Crafts house during the turn of the century.”

Cost is a part of function, and affordability is at the essence of the function of these units; they are selling for $196,000. The project has attracted a large number of what are often called the cultural creatives, including one who was drawn by the design – as well as the aesthetics. “It’s built so that resources are efficient,” said Amy Larinkin, an artist. “There are not a lot of wasted trees.”

Real estate frenzy hits the Butte

CRESTED BUTTE – A major redevelopment project at the base of the Crested Butte ski area has been approved, and so the real estate sales have begun. They are impressive.

Some 89 units in a project called Mountaineer Square went under contract in a six-hour flurry during one Saturday in July. Sales of the units are ultimately expected to yield $80 million for the developers, Tim and Diane Mueller, owners of the ski area. The units range from studios to four-bedroom condos, with prices ranging from $325,000 to $1.9 million.

Meanwhile, home prices continue to escalate briskly at Crested Butte, substantially outstripping even the startling gains elsewhere in the nation. This continues the trend since the Muellers, with their deep pockets and lofty ambitions, purchased the ski area last year. The average sales price of a single-family home in the town of Crested Butte this year is $976,000, well more than double the $430,000 of two years ago. Down-valley in Gunnison, the increase has been far more subdued, with the average single-family home this year selling for $190,000, compared to $160,000 two years ago.

Snowmaking may boost glacier

WHISTLER, B.C. – In January, Whistler was deluged by rain that eviscerated the snowpack. Last year was a drought. Yet the best glacier conditions in recent years were reported on Blackcomb Mountain during July.

It was so good that there seems to be some hope that the glaciers actually gained mass this year, reversing the century-long trend of recession.

Pique newsmagazine reports that this long-term trend has Intrawest, the ski area operator, considering several strategies to discourage the glacier from shrinking. Like ski area operators in the Alps, they have used snow fencing to retain snow coverage and will install more fences in the future. Grooming practices have been altered. And, while no plans are imminent, Whistler-Blackcomb is considering snowmaking to augment the snows on the glaciers, perhaps extending the life of the glacier from 30 to 50 years.

“Certainly, the world’s scientists – and I’m referring to the UN and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – agree that we will continue to see a warming trend, so we needed a significant operational plan to address that,” said Arthur DeJong, manager of mountain planning and environmental resources for Whistler-Blackcomb.

Real estate hot in Eagle County

VAIL – Like most of the nation, real estate sales in the Eagle Valley just keep getting hotter, with $275 million in property passing hands in June alone. That puts Eagle County at $1.2 billion in sales for the first half of the year.

Still, some real estate agents insist there’s no real estate bubble about to deflate. Jim Flaum, who directs operations for the biggest realty agency in the valley, Slifer, Smith & Frampton, notes that Southern California property is appreciating even more rapidly, 15 to 20 percent a year. In the case of Vail and its suburbs, the appreciation is strictly the result of a big bubble of baby boomers buying second homes. “There’s no sign of that bubble deflating,” he told theVail Daily.

The average price of property selling so far this year has been $722,000.

Retailer celebrates 100 years

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Even today, the sagebrush along the highways leading to Steamboat Springs is thick with signs for a clothing retailer, F.M. Light & Sons. The signs are now curiosities, as the Stetson hats and Pendleton shirts sold by the company surely cost more than the $4.98 advertised by the signs.

The company, however, continues to operate from downtown Steamboat Springs, and this year marks its 100th birthday.The Steamboat Pilot reports that to observe the company’s centennial, a 100-foot-long birthday cake was delivered for community consumption. The cake, said the newspaper, was so large that it took 35 gallons of frosting to coat it. Among those diving into the confection were a number of old-timers, who in this case were defined as those who could recall when F.M. Light & Sons turned 50.

Aspen enacts a leaf blower ban

ASPEN – Aspen’s city government is preparing to crack down on gasoline-powered leaf blowers. The council enacted a ban against gas leaf blowers in 2003, in response to a citizen’s petition, but it has not been aggressively enforced.

“Brooms and rakes used to be fine with landscapers, but blowers now are a tool,” senior health specialist Jannette Murison told theRocky Mountain News. “We just want them to use electric blowers. It’s incredible what some people will use them for. They blow dirt and even grass off sidewalks and driveways and decks and anything else they can think of.”

Aspen road could get heat coils

ASPEN – A road that links Aspen with some of the priciest homes in the nation is getting a major overhaul next year. If homeowners are willing to foot the bill, that overhaul could include installation of heating coils to deice one of the road’s steepest spots.

Some homeowners may not be willing. Although the road closes many times each winter because of use by two-wheel drive cars without winter tires, some residents of the area, called Red Mountain, like their road narrow, steep and sometimes impassable. But Brian Pettet, the county’s public works director, said some of the newer residents want the road wider, with more of an urban setting. “We have to balance the two, and that’s a challenge,” he toldThe Aspen Times.

– compiled by Allen Best

In this week's issue...

July 18, 2024
Rebuilding Craig

Agreement helps carve a path forward for town long dependent on coal

July 11, 2024
Reining it in

Amid rise in complaints, City embarks on renewed campaign to educate dog owners

July 11, 2024
Rolling retro

Vintage bikes get their day to shine with upcoming swap and sale