Mining Gypsum: Developers see gold in tiny town west of Vail

Eagle County has exploded in recent years, doubling in population from 1990 to 2000, and reaching an estimated 47,530 people in 2005, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Gypsum has mirrored that trend, growing from 1,750 residents in 1990 to more than 5,200 today – and its not finished yet.

The old mining town, 35 miles west of Vail, is home to several major new projects, including:

  • The Brightwater Club, which soon will hold 535 single-family homes, a Robert Trent Jones Jr. golf course, 27 acres of lakes and a village that will offer restaurants, a gourmet market, and a fitness center and spa. With homesites starting at $300,000, more than 120 lots have sold to date and 45 more are under contract, totaling more than $80 million in sales. The average Brightwater home ranges from $1.1 million to $2.1 million.
  • A 155,000-square-foot Costco store, scheduled to open Oct. 20, expects to draw shoppers from as far as Vail, Aspen and Steamboat Springs. The store will employ 160 people and is expected to generate more than $3 million in annual sales-tax revenues.
  • The Tower Center, which includes 475,000 square feet of retail, including at least two big-box stores, 330 housing units and at least one hotel. Tower Center is expected to generate at least $5 million in annual sales-tax revenue for Gypsum.

The town’s coffers have been swelling for several years. Gypsum’s real estate transfer tax grew from $704,800 in 2004 to $1.48 million last year. Sales-tax revenues grew from $1.46 million in 2004 to $2.33 million last year.

Sales-tax revenue from the new projects will help Gypsum pay off its new $12.2 million recreation center – scheduled to open in November – in less than 10 years.
Read the full article in the Denver Post . . .

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