Mountain News: Ski towns nervous about flow of cash 

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. – The conventional wisdom is that ski towns may hurt during economic downturns but not as much as elsewhere. Still, edginess is evident in reports from across the West.

In Colorado’s Summit County, rumors spread that Vail Resorts, a major developer of real estate, will not start new housing it had planned at Keystone. A company official said no decision had been made.

But housing starts in Summit County have definitely slowed — a 30 per cent decline, a building association official tells the Summit Daily News. Real estate sales have also declined. Prices continue to rise, but more slowly than last year.

In Steamboat Springs, reports the Pilot & Today, cash-buyers are asking for — and getting — discounts on properties as concern spreads about the viability of credit sources.

In Aspen, a development that envisions two large hotels, affordable housing, and a new lift, all in a long-neglected area near the city’s downtown district, is in doubt, reports The Aspen Times. Financial consultant Byron Koste told a task force that the outlook for the development is grim because of the absence of financing.

In Vail, rumors have been floating of imminent foreclosure proceedings by Capmark Financial Group against the Vail Plaza Hotel. This is the major hotel located at the town’s middle entrance on the ski-hill side of Interstate 70. The Vail Daily found circumstantial evidence to support the rumor.

Town governments are also tightening their belts in expectation of flat and even reduced revenue. Vail, for example, is projecting $51 million in revenues next year, compared to $54 million this year. Sales taxes collections are expected to be flat, while real-estate transfer tax is projected to decline nearly 14 per cent.

“I’ve got some anxiety, but I don’t think there’s a reason to panic,” said Stan Zemler, the town manager, told the Vail Daily.


Bears pay ultimate price

BANFF, Alberta – From Banff to Tahoe, bears are back in the news in mountain resort towns across the West.

In Banff National Park, wildlife wardens killed a black bear that had been feeding on garbage but also crab apples. Officials from Parks Canada say that one way or another, they want crab apples gone from the town.

“The crab apple situation needs to be taken seriously,” said Steve Michel, Parks Canada’s human-wildlife conflict specialist. “Residents need to remove all the fruit, and if they’re not prepared to do that, they should consider cutting the trees down.”

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