Monthly Archives: September 2006

Oil shale looms over region

If the economy of the the Western Slope weren’t already hot enough, the promise (or spector depending on your perspective) looms over discussions about what the future might hold for the area.oil shale

Since the Colorado State Demographer already forecasts significant population and job growth for Eagle, Pitkin, and Garfield Counties over the next 20-30 years (and that’s “without considering oil shale” goes the common rejoinder), what happens with oil shale research and development hoovers over the region’s collective imagination.

The region’s oil shale deposits hold enough potential “oil” (three times the reserves of Saudi Arabia) to attract a lot of national attention. Unfortunately, as an article in the San Francisco Chronicle reports, “the energy value of the oil produced would be about 3.5 times greater than the energy in the electricity used to produce it.”

Even if the technology evolves enough to extract oil from oil shale, we’ve centainly entered a would of diminishing energy returns.


Multi-family affordable development opens in Steamboat

Fox Creek is a new development in Steamboat Springs containing 30 deed-restricted, affordable housing condominiums, designed for families and homeowners with low to moderate incomes.

The ribbon-cutting marked the culmination of three years of work by the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, which planned, managed and spearheaded funding for the $6 million development.

Most Fox Creek residents will close on the purchase of their new homes later this month. Most of the units at Fox Creek have two bedrooms and two bathrooms. With grant assistance, all homebuyers will pay less than $200,000.

Read the full article in the Steamboat Pilot . . .

The Small-Mart Revolution

When Michael Shuman presented at Healthy Mountain Communities’, 1st State of the Valley Symposium in 2003, he presented an alternative approach to economic development that focused on local ownership and import substitution (LOIS) rather than the export model so common today.

Now he has completed The Small-Mart Revolution, which details the reasons why ‘local’ is working across the U.S.

As the publisher summarizes, The Small-Mart Revolution:

  • Shows exactly why locally owned businesses are far more beneficial to their communities than massive chains like Wal-Mart
  • Outlines specific strategies small and home-based businesses are using to successfully outcompete the world’s largest companies
  • Advises consumers, investors, policymakers, and organizers on how they can support the the local entrepreneurs who contribute to their communities

Read more or order the book . . .

Crested Butte tries ‘horizontal zoning’

The Crested Butte Town Council passed an ordinance that restricts the types of businesses that can operate along Elk Avenue, the main drag, but some think it’s too much, too soon. About 60 people showed up at last week’s council meeting, and many of them were opposed to the new ordinance.

The goal of the new “horizontal” zoning ordinance is to add more sales tax to town coffers by encouraging retail businesses, while discouraging businesses on the street that collect no sales tax.

The ordinance would only affect ground-floor businesses and those below street level with display windows on the street, but would not affect businesses on upper floors. Existing businesses would not be affected until they change hands and businesses set back from Elk Avenue more than 40 feet are exempt.

Mayor Alan Bernholtz, said the ordinance is needed because the ski town has a tourist-based economy.

“It’s not a unique issue. Every resort town is dealing with it, and many have enacted similar regulations,” he said. “When a town like ours runs off sales tax, that money is what we need for our services. We are just trying to stimulate that, and this is just one piece of the puzzle we’re working on.”

Read the full article in the Daily Sentinel . . .

From ‘Edge of Hell’ to Luxury homes in El Jebel

The village that began as affordable housing for workers at Ruedi Reservoir and the Fryingpan-Arkansas water diversion project is now the site of Shadowrock, a high-end townhouse project where prices will start at almost $600,000.

A powerhouse real estate development and acquisition firm from Dallas is building the first phase of the 100-townhouse project.

In the past, some observers snidely referred to El Jebel as “edge of hell.” Now it is home to several top restaurants, a collection of shops and service providers, a bowling alley and theater. Willits developer Michael Lipkin is completing the first building in what will be a 10-block town center with numerous more shops and restaurants.

Read the full article in the Aspen Times . . .

It’s boomtime in ‘Bondale

Carbondale has more develoment in the pipeline than debating the pros and cons of the Crystal River Marketplace. A flurry of new construction of retail, commercial, industrial and residential developments is either already approved, going through development review or nearly ready to do so.

Some of the projects inlcude:

  • American National Bank is planning to move to the corner of Dolores Way and Hwy 133 next to the site where the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority plans to build a new park-and-ride lot.
  • Farther up the highway, the in the old Sopris Shopping Plaza, once home to the town’s only grocery store, Circle Super, and soon to be old the Paint Store location is to be torn down and replaced with what town officials expect to be a two-story, mixed-use building.
  • In the downtown area itself, right next to Town Hall, the new Carbondale Recreation Center is expected to start going up next year on property now occupied by a parking lot and a small house and yard along Colorado Avenue between Fourth and Sixth streets.
  • Across Colorado Avenue, developers Ed Podolak and Bill Smith are planning to build another mixed-use, three-story building next to the Thunder River Theater building. It is to be similar to the one they built earlier at the corner of Fourth and Colorado.
  • On a vacant lot at the corner of Main and Fourth, formerly owned by Dale Eubank but now owned by an investment group led by architect Charles Cunniffe, town officials are expecting another two-story, mixed-use project, possibly by next summer. And next door, another former Eubank property, European Antiques, is about to get a second story, according to the building’s owners.
  • Across Fourth Street, the old Mountain Aire apartment complex, now owned by developer Don Ensign, is to be demolished and replaced by a three-story mixed-use project, with retail and residential on the ground floor and residential above.
  • Farther east along Main Street, the old yellow wood frame house next to Miser’s Mercantile disappeared recently, torn down in a matter of hours, to make way for yet another mixed-use project.
  • Heading south along Highway 133, 52 homes are planned for the Kator Grove subdivision. Next door, at Cerise Park, another 40 homes are anticipated once annexation is complete and the developers submit their plans.
  • Ongoing construction of the new Roaring Fork High School, the adjacent Carbondale & Rural Volunteer Fire Department training facility and the Crystal River Elementary School.
  • The Colorado Department of Transportation to start work next year on the intersection of Highways 133 and 82, and a new Highway 133 bridge across the Roaring Fork River at the north end of town.

The the development is not likely to end soon, according to Town Manager Tom Baker, explaining that as the baby boom generation retires and seeks nice places to spend its declining years, Carbondale seems to be at the top of many lists.

Read the full article in the Aspen Times . . .