By Allen Best
Developer gets prison
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – Brooks L. Kellogg, 72, likely will spend some of his golden years behind bars. In a plea bargain in which he agreed to six years in prison, the former developer in Steamboat Springs pleaded guilty to interstate travel with intent that a murder be committed.
Kellogg owes $2.38 million related to deals involving land near the base of the Steamboat ski area to a former business associate from Florida. Kellogg’s mistress, a convicted felon, hatched the plan to have the former business associate killed. She pressured Kellogg to go along with it, then shared her information with federal authorities.
Posing as a murderer for hire, a federal agent met Kellogg in Denver after he had flown from Chicago. The agent said that Kellogg provided $2,000 and expressed no reservations.
Kellogg, from Chicago, had been a managing member of Chadwick Real Estate Group. He owned an office and retail building in downtown Steamboat and also a home overlooking a golf course in Steamboat, explains the Steamboat Pilot.
Which “old normal” will prevail?
ASPEN, Colo. – With everybody trying to get a grip on what constitutes the “new normal,” the question lingers: could ski towns revert to the old normal? And, if so, which old normal?
The old normal of the 15 or 20 years prior to the Great Recession was an economy crazed by real estate sales. Sales of condominiums in ski towns go back at least to the 1960s. But after changes in tax laws in 1987, the real estate economy picked up its pace, fueled by what now was obviously a mass delusion about ever-escalating prices.
Even in the old days, construction was part of the game. In winter, people worked on the ski hill. In summer, they ran backhoes or pounded nails.
But, eventually, construction continued year round. Building, selling, and then servicing houses overshadowed the pure tourism economy in Aspen, Vail and several other resorts. A 2004 study found that 41 percent of all jobs in Aspen and Pitkin County were related to real estate.
What does the future hold? Jim Weskott, Colorado’s former state demographer, didn’t exactly forecast the burst of the real estate bubble. But now that it has occurred, he doesn’t foresee a resumption anytime soon. Instead, he sees tourism and a more pared appetite for vacation homes, reports The Aspen Times.
Mick Ireland, Aspen’s mayor, disagrees. He says national tax policy could result in extended cuts for the wealthy or even an overhaul of the tax rate. And, in all cases, that means a further concentration of wealth in Aspen.
Tending the money trees
CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – It’s often been said in ski towns that it would be nice if tourists didn’t bother to visit, but just sent money.
As silly as that sounds, you can’t blame a community for trying. And that seems to be what’s up in Crested Butte now. Reporting on an economic development initiative, the Crested Butte News cites calls for “better jobs” instead of just “more jobs.”
In other words, instead of trying to secure $8-per-hour jobs, people are talking about what it would be like to get jobs that pay $80 an hour.
That sounds like a call for wanting money managers to move to Crested Butte, at least part time. It’s believed that improving electronic bandwidth might help accomplish that.
Homes for less than $500,000!
JACKSON, Wyo. – A new report in Teton County finds 13 homes listed for under $500,000, one of them at just a hair below $300,000. When is the last time that happened, asks David Viehman, co-editor of The Hole Report.
Most sellers have realized the market has dropped 20 percent to even 50 percent in some locations. However, not all prices have dropped. “We’re still seeing some people living in la-la land,” he told the Jackson Hole News&Guide.
Another mining setback
CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – There was dancing in the streets in Crested Butte as another mining company bowed out of the Mt. Emmons project.
Thompson Creek Metals Co., a Denver-based firm, said it believes the molybdenum deposits at Crested Butte remain viable, but instead wants to devote its resources to a project in British Columbia, reports the Crested Butte News, citing a press release.
A Wyoming-based company, U.S. Energy, retains the property, but has had trouble enlisting the partnership of a mining company large enough to persevere in the face of great opposition.
“Obviously they decided it took up a ton of management time—the Forest Service scrutiny, the water quality issues, the fact that the Climax mine (near Leadville, Colo.) is getting ready to reopen and add 30 to 40 million more pounds per year to the molybdenum market,” said Bill Ronai, president of an opposition group called the Red Lady Coalition. “They had to be asking if this project was really worth it.”
Various mining companies have wanted to develop the molybdenum deposits since the 1970s.
High Country Citizens Alliance, another grassroots environmental organization, expects U.S. Energy to continue to seek a partner. “I’m sure they’ll try to keep this thing sputtering along,” said the alliance’s Dan Morse. “Our job as a community is to stop it.”
U.S. Energy, in a press release, reported plans to reach out to Chinese conerns. “They tend to have a longer-term view regarding resource inventory,” said chief executive Keith Larsen.
Vail sees big revenue increases
BROOMFIELD, Colo. – It was a very good winter for Vail Resorts. Skier visits were up 3.9 percent at the company’s resorts, which now include four in Colorado and two in California. Ski school revenue rose 8.4%, dining revenue 9% and retail and rental revenue 8.3%.
Lodging up, rates down
DENVER, Colo. – Mountain Travel Research Program reports that lodging occupancy during winter at the destination mountain resorts it monitors was up 6 percent, but the average daily rate was up just 1 percent.
Biomass okay, just not here
KING’S BEACH, Calif. – While conversion of the drying forests in the West seems to offer great potential for creating electricity and heat for local consumption, the reality has been more of a fizzle.
Still, officials in Placer County, which slides through the Tahoe Basin, continue with their plans to build a biomass plant. But plenty of people disagree. They think that the basin, with its frequent temperature inversions, is not the suitable location, and instead want it located near Truckee, reports the Sierra Sun.