Largest Denver house not big in Aspen

PARKER – The Denver Post tells of a 50,374-square-foot house for sale on the outskirts of metropolitan Denver. The asking price is $18.37 million.

The house is believed to be the largest along Colorado’s Front Range, plus it has 70 acres, an indoor swimming pool, a bowling alley, and a 29-space garage.

How does this compare with Aspen real estate? It’s as big as anything in Aspen and has plenty of land. But in price? Not so much.

“I could go to Aspen and show you properties in this price range all day long,” Liza Hogan of Joshua & Co. said. “But this home looks like an unbelievable value compared to a lot of resort properties.”

The house is owned by Cal Turner, former chief executive of Dollar General, the chain of discount stores.

Bouncing boulders and raging rivers

GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, Mont. – Glacier National Park is noted for its grizzly bears. But what should people fear most? By the numbers, more people die from drowning than any other cause. Grizzly bears? Rare indeed.

But even driving can be risky. The Whitefish Pilot tells of an 800-pound boulder that bounced onto Going-to-the-Sun Road just a few hours after the highway opened to traffic July 3. Nobody was hurt, though traffic was blocked for several hours.

Taos and Telluride pan panhandling

TELLURIDE – Panhandling transients are on people’s minds in Telluride. The Daily Planet reports that local officials have been getting near-daily complaints.

James Kolar, the Telluride chief marshal, tells the newspaper that he and his staff have talked to people about illegal camping, directing them to the San Juan National Forest and other locations that have sites where extended camping is legal.

“Some of the things that people are feeling uncomfortable about are not necessarily against the law,” Kolar said. “If there is harassing, disorderly type of conduct, and someone is willing to sign a complaint that meets the statute, then we’re willing to (prosecute). But under a lot of circumstances, people aren’t comfortable doing so.”

In Taos, N.M., city officials are rethinking the municipal ordinance against panhandling.

While many towns and cities have laws that prohibit aggressive panhandling characterized by profane language or physical threats, the Taos News explains that the local law adopted last summer has additional stipulations. Signs larger than 4 square feet are prohibited, and panhandling in the Taos Plaza area is prohibited between sunset and sunrise.

The News reports that the local police chief has acknowledged the dubious legality of the law. “There are certain sections of that ordinance I don’t believe are constitutional,” Police Chief David Weaver told local merchants. “Just because it’s not desirable does not mean it’s not lawful.”

No bears pillaging this year in the Butte

CRESTED BUTTE – It’s been an upside down summer in Crested Butte in that no bears have been pillaging Dumpsters and patios for food. Instead, they’re staying in the higher country, foraging for berries, ants and other sources of nutrition.

“We honestly haven’t had one call for a bear this summer,” Ted Conner, the assistant chief marshal, told the Crested Butte News.

Police and wildlife officials applaud locals for finally getting the message that trash needs to be secured so as not to attract bears. As for bird feeders – well, the townspeople still get an incomplete on their report cards.

“We have been pushing the preventive message for years and it seems to be working,” says J Wenum, the local wildlife biologist. However, he also acknowledged that strong snows have left the upper Gunnison River Basin “pretty green” and with good backcountry food.

Across the Elk Range, a local wildlife biologist blistered Aspen for its lackadaisical approach to removing bear attractants. Kevin Wright chided the city for a “lack of compliance and commitment” in dealing with bears.

In the meantime, the Forest Service has been buying food-storage lockers and providing bear-proof garbage containers at campgrounds and day-use sites.

And in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., a woman got her wrist slapped for firing a pump-action BB gun off her porch at a tree in which a bear was camped out. All guns, including those shooting BBs, are illegal in the town.

Jenny Smith, who works construction and tends bar, told The Sheet that she was just exercising her rights. The bear, she said, had been a regular visitor, drawn by her grill and by the beer that she brews.

“I’m from upstate New York, where you protect your property,” she said. “This bear is not welcome on my property. As far as I know, I’m allowed to protect my property and my belongings.”

Wyoming’s real estate ‘jewel box’

JACKSON, Wyo. – The town of Alpine, Wyo., is located along the Snake River near where it leaves Wyoming and enters Idaho. It’s a pretty town, pinched by two mountain ranges, and one of the entry-ways into Jackson Hole. But it never has been a destination in the way of Jackson, located 38 miles away.

But Alpine town officials aim for the town to become more of a destination, for businesses. Incentives have resulted in a Jackson business choosing to build a brewery and other businesses there.

Jackson town officials weren’t willing to provide incentives for the brewery. The town doesn’t even have an economic development director. And there are more jobs than there are people, which is why, similar to Aspen and many other mountain towns, the valley daily inhales and exhales commuting workers.

The Jackson Hole News&Guide editorially reads these tea leaves as evidence that Jackson and Teton County need to work harder on their affordable housing programs.

“Jackson is prosperous, but it is virtually built-out and has a worker-housing shortage that has reached a crisis,” the newspaper says.

A touchstone for commentary was a recent report that listed Jackson Hole as one of the “jewel box markets” of under 150,000 population for residential real estate. Others included Bedford, N.Y., La Jolla, Calif., and Martha’s Vineyard.

The majestic Tetons and no state income taxes make Jackson Hole one of the wealth-friendliest resort and second-home destinations in the United States.

“Demand at the high end of the market is increasing; Jackson’s lifestyle benefits are matched only by the financial benefits of Wyoming residency,” said Julie Faupel, of Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates-Christie’s International Real Estate.

A subsequent article in London’s Financial Times further described Jackson Hole as an “old-money hub,” which the News&Guide quibbles with.

But in a sense, the Financial Times was right in that deep, deep pockets go far back in Jackson Hole’s history – setting the stage for current decisions. Creation of Yellowstone National Park came first, but a donation by John Rockefeller Jr. in 1949 set the stage for Grand Teton National Park as it now is.

Other figures in conservation also had a role in making Jackson Hole what it is today, which analyst Jonathan Schechter says has allowed Jackson Hole to “perform a bit of economic alchemy, crafting an extraordinarily vibrant economy out of nothing but three base elements: landscape, flora and fauna.”

Schechter goes on to point out that the economic alchemy is not strictly tourism, but rather this fact: $10 billion out of total taxable property in Teton County lies in residential and improvements.

“Will we be viewed as little more than indulged and indolent heirs who squandered the gifts left to us?” Schechter asks of himself and other current residents. “Or will we leave things better and be looked upon by future generations as worthy heirs” of those who achieved land conservation and the national parks.”

Cannabis, cash, and kids are concerns in Colorado

ASPEN – Cannabis continues to be one of the top stories in Colorado.

In Aspen, where he was interviewed by former TV news anchor Katie Couric, Gov. John Hickenlooper continues to fret about the availability of cannabis to still-developing brains, including people as old as 25. The worry is that using cannabis can accelerate and exaggerate some mental illnesses.

To discourage marijuana use, Hickenlooper said he’s pushing for a new multimillion-dollar and anti-pot marketing campaign aimed at 12- to 14-year-olds and their parents.

“This has been going on even while pot was illegal,” he said, according to Aspen Journalism. “Every poll we see, 20 to 25 percent of the kids, in those age groups, said they were smoking pot sometime in the previous year or two. Those are high numbers, I think alarmingly high numbers.”

One campaign is going to take its cue from studies that show young teens can permanently lose up to eight points of IQ by smoking potent pot.

“We’re working on a whole campaign about ‘Don’t be a lab rat,’” Hickenlooper said.

The issue of revenues came up in Aspen. Couric noted projections of taxes and fees in Colorado could reach $134 million a year. “That’s probably on the high side for the first year, but certainly for the second year I think it’s reasonable,” Hickenlooper said. “The first year, I think we’ve backed off and are thinking something closer to $80 million.”

The Denver Post, however, reported a more nuanced story. In an editorial, the newspaper noted that recreational sales for the first four months totaled $70 million, compared to $133 million for medical marijuana sales. It also noted that the Colorado legislative council had dramatically lowered its estimate of taxes for this year.

One official told the newspaper there isn’t any evidence so far that the medical marijuana market is shrinking with people going to the adult-use market.

Ketchum/Sun Valley now linked to Denver

KETCHUM – Oh happy days in Sun Valley and Ketchum, at least for those who hope for more tourists and real estate buyers. Getting there just got easier.

A new daily flight from Denver began last week, augmenting daily flights from San Francisco. Denver International Airport is reported to be the 14th busiest airport in the world. Strictly in the United States, it’s fourth, behind Los Angeles, Chicago O’Hare, and Dallas-Fort Worth.

For more, go to  – Allen Best

In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows