Mountain News: Real estate a lousy formula for future 

MOUNTAIN VILLAGE, Colo. - Businesses owners and officials in Mountain Village, the joined-at-the-gondola slope-side town above Telluride, have been soberly questioning whether such things as evening concerts are a good way to spend money.

The problem, explains the Telluride Watch , is that revenues have dropped sharply, particularly from real estate assessments - 69 per cent below the average of the previous nine years.

The sponsorship of events, including concerts at sunset, costs $845,000 per year, but there were plenty of people to defend the cost as worthwhile.

But Dave Riley, the chief executive of Telluride Ski and Golf Co., the ski area operator, sees a broader problem. "I think we've gotten ourselves in this pickle here because for 20 years we've been riding a real estate development boom" and there's a need to ask "what is our economic model for the long run here." That model, he added, should not be dependent on real-estate development."

"We can't 'event' ourselves out of this problem," he concluded.

Bend tightening belt

BEND, Ore. - Bend has been a poster child of the amenity-based West for the last decade. A one-time timber town, it has a ski area on Mt. Bachelor, fly fishing in the Deschutes River, and famous rock climbing. Located just east of the Cascades, it also has sunshine and, of no small matter, a significant airport to allow lone ranger entrepreneurial types easy access to the outside world.

But the days of rapid growth have been upended. The New York Times notes that the unemployment rate, at almost 16 per cent, is one of the highest of any metropolitan area in the nation. Luxury furniture stores are going out of business, San Francisco chefs have fled. And, of course "for sale" signs dot still-unfinished subdivisions.

"Economists say the city's sudden abundance of investment income and housing equity from newcomers made Bend seem more secure than it was," reports the Times . Much of that new wealth was derived from California.

Symbolic of the changed circumstances are two magazines. Bend Living , a now defunct magazine, was supported by advertisements for high-end homes and luxury furniture. The editor, Kevin Max, described the magazine as being "about Bend's emergence into 24-7, go-go-go, irresponsible construction and people living beyond their means." A magazine he is now planning he describes as something else. "It's about Oregon, so it's all about sustainability."

Sanford loses again

ASPEN, Colo. - Aspen showed up in the steamy love letters of philandering South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. The Aspen Daily News notes that the Sanford's letters to his mistress, published in a South Carolina newspaper, mentioned Aspen as he described his travel activities last August.

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