Fraser Valley suddenly is hot property with new construction including a Grocery Store, Affordable Housing, Community Center, and in Grand Park. Photos by Michael Turner.
Construction Bust Trends to Boom
New residential and commercial construction is booming in Colorado mountain resort towns, led by Pitkin County, which reported sales topping $2 billion last year. Eagle County was second, with big property deals in Vail and Beaver Creek. Summit County, which includes Breckenridge, was next, followed by Routt County and, Winter Park and the Fraser Valley.
It is easy to see the next wave of growth pulsing through Grand County. A short drive in any direction and, you’ll see new framing and concrete pads waiting for loads of lumber and steel. One of the challenges for contractors is a shortage of skilled craftsman to keep up with the demand. Plans are rolling off architectual tables at a feverish pace and a spokesperson for Grand Park said, “we have a waiting list of clients that would like a set of keys as soon as we can get the certificate of occupancy”.
After speaking with real estate professionals, builders and developers, there is a common theme is each conversation. That message is “Exciting” and the “Potential” is huge – it’s right here, right now. Charlie Johnson with WC JOHNSON, LLC, a real estate investment company based out of Lakewood, Colorado, said, “I have a lot of friends that want to invest in a resort community, and, I keep telling them to get in now, because Winter Park is changing and it is changing fast” The Johnson family purchased Cooper Creek Square in downtown Winter Park two years ago.
It looks like the next wave of development may be a tidal surge not seen in many years. The Denver market wants to share the mountain lifestyle. Buz Koelbel, Koelbel and Company is based out of Denver, but the long time Grand County Family said, “One thing we see is the whole energy behind the millenials and the millenials coming of age. They are a big component of the market.” What Koelbel has learned is, that millenials have a little different idea of how and where they want to live and play. Koebel added, “We are having our best year in 10 years”, in part, by the products and price points that cater to the new buying group. It isn’t the home or property, it is the vehicle to take advantage of the amenities surrounding the investment.
Grand Park has been leading the way in the real estate development push, despite the economic rollercoaster over the last decade. Jeff Durbin, Fraser Town Manager, said “We are in a really good position financially and are optimistic about our future.” Recently, Fraser formed a new arts council that will work to add fun and vibrancy at events and to the historic downtown area. Durbin said, “We have some new staff members that are working hard on several projects and, we have some new commercial facilities in the works.” Fraser has plans for a new distillary that is scheduled to break ground this fall in the center of town. Durbin also mentioned the possibility that the historic Crooked Creek Saloon will undergo an exterior facelift.
Clark Lipscomb, Cornerstone Holdings LLC, said “We weathered a tough economic period. During that time we put plans in place that set the stage for the projects we are bringing to the table today.“ Grand Park is releasing several new phases in the coming months. Says Lipscomb, “It’s exciting to see it come together.” The influx of year-round residents and second homeowners will boost a year-round, sustainable business model.
One thing is for sure, the numbers are starting to speak for themselves. Gross figures for property sales for 2016 were reported at a little over $304 million dollars, representing an estimate of total residential, condo, and vacant land sales, according to a document provided by Real Estate of Winter Park. Vicki Ellis at the Grand County Building department said there were 589 permits issued in 2016, and, the numbers to date are running slightly higher over last year. The volume of new buildings marks a start of something big, like it or not, it is coming.
Charlie Johnson said it best, “Winter Park is on everybody’s radar. The excitement behind the KSL purchase, our new public Transit System, Winter Park Express, Community Center and the new stage in Hideaway Park. It’s really exciting.” The window of opportunity is open and, investors are looking, the times they are a changing.
Sky Foulkes, CEO and President of Winter Park Resort said, “Winter park has a rich history and we look forward to working with the town to continue its efforts to develop the authentic vacation experience that Winter Park offers.”
Charlie Johnson, of Johnson Real Estate Investments, and, owner of Cooper Creek Square stated “I have friends and they are buzzing. They know now is the time to buy. The ski train and new deal with KSL has shined the light on Winter Park.”
“We don’t have inventory. As soon as it comes on the market, within a day or two, it’s gone again. It is a sellers market right now, for sure.”
– Ann Burks, Rendezvous
Source. Grand County Building Department, Grand County Builders Association, Grand County Board of Realtors and The Aspen Times.