By Allen Best
Go after those rich Canadians!
WHITEFISH, Mont. –There is talk in Whitefish about creating a trade center in Calgary, to help encourage Canadians to spend their money in Montana.
Plenty already do. Albertans, flush with bulging wallets from the oil- and gas-fueled boom, routinely trek south to Whitefish and other communities. Some have built homes. Everybody routinely stocks up on merchandise, some even towing trailers for their loot.
Hauling the goods back north across the international border has its own cost, but rules are loosening. Canadians staying 48 hours in the United States would be allowed to take $800 worth of goods home, compared to $400 previously, without special taxes.
The Whitefish Pilot reports that candidates for the Montana legislature were among those at a recent meeting called to explore the idea of a trade center in Calgary.
“Canadians have a lot of extra money, and we want them to spend money here,” said Dee Brown, a businesswoman from nearby Hungry Horse, at the south end of Glacier National Park.
Staying the course
REVELSTOKE, B.C. – Tom Gaglardi, the president of Northland Properties, the family-based business that rescued Revelstoke Mountain Resort when its original developers floundered in 2008, admits to a “long, arduous process.”
In an interview with the Revelstoke Times Review, he reported that 63 percent of the real-estate inventory remains unsold. But he says prices have not been discounted, retaining value for existing buyers, and his family remains committed to the long-term vision of former owner Donald Simpson, a real estate developer from Denver.
“When Don Simpson came to Revelstoke and pitched this development, it was grandiose … He made some wild statements and some wild promises and some wild things, and I suppose had the world not changed, he may have been able to deliver on those things. I think it’s notable that we haven’t done anything different than that vision.”
Gaglardi told the Times Review that his company has invested $300 million in the resort, half of that in real estate. “We have no debt on it, and all we do is hang around there and wait for the market to return.
Molybdenum mining resumes
LEADVILLE, Colo. – Mining has resumed at Climax, the molybdenum mine located between Leadville and Copper Mountain.
The Leadville Herald says that Freeport McMoRan expects to ramp up production to 20 million pounds of molybdenum next year. If prices rise, the company can increase production to 30 million pounds a year. The mine, located at 11,318-foot Fremont Pass, first opened in the waning days of World War I.
As world supplies of “moly,” which is used as an alloy in steel and for other industrial applications, glutted, the mine closed in 1981, putting nearly 3,000 people out of work and converting Leadville into a bedroom community for Vail and Breckenridge.
Wildlife overpass works
KREMMLING, Colo. – It’s possible that the first wildlife overpass in Colorado will be built on a narrow segment of two-lane highway through a sagebrush-covered valley between the Colorado River and Green Mountain Reservoir. This is between the ski resorts of Summit County and Steamboat Springs.
The 10-mile road segment immediately north of Kremmling is deadly. The Sky-Hi News reports that three people have died and 23 have been injured from 2007 to 2011, although it’s not clear how many can be attributed to accidents provoked by deer crossing the highway.
In recent years, the state has sought to decrease accidents by reducing the nighttime speed to 55 mph, down from 65 during daylight.
The design plan offered by the Colorado Department of Transportation calls for two overpasses, similar to those found in Montana and Banff National Park, and five underpasses. In addition, tall fencing along the highway would be needed to drive deer to the crossings and underpasses.
Blame the snow?
ASPEN, Colo. – Can snowfall help explain real-estate sales activity?
William Small, managing director of Frias Luxury Estates, explains that Aspen real estate sales of $123 million were 64 percent behind those during the same period last year. Writing in the Aspen Daily News, he posits that the disappointing snow conditions this winter kept potential real estate buyers at home. However, he also points out that less real estate has been for sale – and what is for sale has a higher price, with the average asking price 9 percent ahead of last year.
In Vail and Eagle County, sales also lagged during March. Total dollar volume was 68 percent of last year.
In Steamboat, sales volume was up, with one house fetching $834 per square foot. But 21 of the 52 home sales in Routt County were bank sales.
In Telluride, long-time real estate agent George Harvey Jr., writes that he thinks the demand part of the equation is overcoming the supply. “With virtually no new construction in any of the Colorado resort markets, it is just a matter of time in which inventory will become scarce and prices start to increase,” he says.
Goggle inventor dies
KETCHUM, Idaho – Goggle inventor and orthodontist Robert Earl Smith has died at the age of 78.
Frustrated by the fogging of his goggles when skiing at Alta, Utah, where he then lived, Smith built prototypes at his kitchen table using foam, glue and orthodontic tools. They were the first to have double lens and side-vented foam, which allowed the goggles to breathe.
The Idaho Mountain Express explains that Smith later founded a company bearing his name and located it in Ketchum.
His son, Drew, said Smith was “sternly practical in most areas of his life. He didn’t like flashy stuff. He used to really resist change except a few new models of goggles and a few colors. That practicality – and making a quality product – made him the best.”
New coalition supports link
PARK CITY, Utah – The jostling about a proposed ski interconnection between the Park City resorts and those of Big Cottonwood Canyon continues.
The latest twist is formation of a new coalition, called Lift Utah, which is made up of 20 community leaders from the Salt Lake Valley and from the Park City area. Opponents dismissed the announcement of the new coalition as a “dog-and-pony show,” reports the Park Record. It was created because “they’re not finding support from the public at large,” said Carl Fisher of Save Our Canyons.
The gondola link would require changed use of federal lands, over which it would cross. The two U.S. representatives that represent the Salt Lake City area, one a Democrat and one a Republican, have lined up on opposite sides. The Democrat, Jim Matheson, has sided with environmentalists, including the City of Salt Lake, which worries about degradation of municipal water supplies. The Republican, Rob Bishop, has sponsored legislation favored by the ski area operators.