02 Nov Aspen’s Exclusively Residential West End Comes Into Its Own…
Aspen’s tony West End, the ski-centric neighborhood that has a small-town feel with a cultural/intellectual bent, is becoming a year-round destination for big-city dwellers who want to get away from it all, yet still have it all.
With its historic houses, perfectly coiffed lawns and “oh-my-gosh” friendliness, the West End walks beautifully back in time with a bold, contemporary stride.
Whether residents of the Colorado neighborhood meet on the ski slopes or bump into each other in the shops, “everybody treats everybody the same,” said Mark J. Haldeman, principal/broker at Christie’s International Real Estate Aspen Snowmass. “You never know who you’re sitting next to in a bar.”
The city of Aspen, which is surrounded by National Forest Service land, is just 1.9 square miles. The West End, a 14-block by six-block area, is defined by Main Street on the south, Mill Street on the east, 8 Street on the west and the Roaring Fork River on the north.
There is a wide range of prices in the West End. Properties are priced at $1,200 to $5,000 per square foot, Mr. Haldeman said, adding that the baseline lot generally is less than 6,000 square feet.
Prices, he said, start at $3 million and quickly climb to $35 million. “Condition, plot size and location all determine price,” he said. “So does how unique the estate is. It’s more desirable to be closer to the town; walkability to the Hotel Jerome on Main Street is key. For the past 25 years, the market has been driven by proximity to the Aspen Mountain Gondola.”
The $3-million entry-level home, he added would be in a “challenging location either on Main Street or a little west of the West End” and it would be a fixer-upper of 3,000 to 3,500 square feet.
He added that the average price, $11 million, buys an upgraded and furnished home.
Amy Doherty, a broker with Douglas Elliman, said the average sold price over the last year was $8.15 million, and the average price per square foot was $2,092. The current average listing price, she added, is $14.16 million, or $2,840 per square foot.
“Lots for sale range from $4.5 million to $17.995 million, which would be a tear-down overlooking Hallam Lake,” she said.
James Bineau, a broker with The Bineau Team Coldwell Banker Mason Morse, said that currently there are small miner’s cabins, which are wooden cottages of 984 square feet with two bedrooms and one bath, listed for $2.95 million as well as a 7,503-square-foot home on Lake Avenue that’s listed for $37.95 million.
He noted that there are some condos in West End. Prices at The Christiana Aspen on Main Street, he said, start at $589,000 for a studio, while a three-bedroom unit, built in 2003, is being offered for $2.65 million.
The silver barons who struck it rich in the mountain mines built their homes in the West End in the late 1800s; prospectors of lesser means built cottage-like cabins.
“The wealthiest built magnificent classic Victorian homes with lots of gingerbread trim,” Mr. Haldeman said. “Most of Aspen’s Victorians are in the West End.”
He added that their architectural integrity is strictly regulated by the city’s Historic Preservation Committee.
“You cannot tear them down; you must restore them,” he said. “But you can add to them. The additions have to be totally different from the original architecture so you can tell them apart.”
He said that because there’s no room for new development in the neighborhood, owners have literally begun lifting the historic houses, adding levels underneath them. “These basement square footages are the same price as ones for higher floors,” he said.
Mr. Haldeman added that there are other, newer historic homes and said that about 40% of the houses are in contemporary styles.
“Most of the homes are very high end and custom and have been remodeled to perfection,” Mr. Bineau added.
Ms. Doherty said the neighborhood attracts developers because “buyers are looking for turnkey properties, which they are able to produce quickly and consistently.”
What Makes It Unique
Unlike the rest of Aspen, which consists primarily of a downtown commercial core with a mix of retail and residential spaces with single-family homes scattered throughout, the West End has defined boundaries and is exclusively residential.
“I see it as Aspen’s only real neighborhood,” Mr. Haldeman said. “In all other areas of the town, condos are next door to $15 million homes, and, in some cases $25 million homes are next door or across the street from hotels and retail spaces. The West End has tree-lined streets containing charming single-family homes, most of which are historically designated. There are multiple parks/open spaces for residents to enjoy, and it feels like a true neighborhood—one where you just want to settle in, meet your neighbors and even raise a family.”
Mr. Bineau said that it’s the West End’s compact convenience that’s its biggest selling point. “The shops and restaurants, art, theaters and music are just a short walk or bike ride away,” he said, adding that the pedestrian Pedi path that runs through the West End ensures that cars only go a block within the boundaries. “The neighborhood has a small-town, familiar feel, bringing back visions of children playing in the streets, cocktail parties and neighbors having barbecues. We show our clients the neighborhood, and it never fails to take them back in time. It’s a real story-book setting.”
Added Ms. Doherty, “It offers the rare opportunity to live in a quaint and quiet family neighborhood and still feel like you’re in the swing of downtown Aspen.”
Although the West End is exclusively residential, the downtown core, which starts at the Hotel Jerome on Main Street and runs to the south and the west, is only two to 10 minutes away.
“It’s where the action is,” Mr. Haldeman, adding that things are so casual that “you can go anywhere in jeans.”
He noted that the Hotel Jerome, which is on the southern street that borders the West End, opened in the 1880s and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
It serves “a good burger and also offers formal dining,” he said.
Mr. Bineau added that the hotel’s J-Bar, which has an Old Western feel, features vintage-inspired cocktails as well as craft beers and “delicious food.”
He said that Bad Harriet, the hotel’s newest addition, is named after the wife of the original proprietor. “It serves craft cocktails and small plates named after other strong women in history,” Mr. Bineau said. He likes its “vibrant atmosphere” and the fact that it’s open from 6 p.m. until late at night.
Other West End establishments include Plato’s, which Mr. Bineau said sources ingredients from local and regional farmers as well as its own backyard garden. “It has a magnificent view, and in the winter you can sit by a roaring fire in the Hefner Lounge,” he said.
The more popular establishments in the town’s so-called Restaurant Row downtown include Cache Cache, a chic…