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Double-digit sales increases in Aspen

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ASPEN, Colo. — Two and three years ago, Aspen was wondering where it had gone wrong in life. Sales were slumping, the downtown district was lifeless – the introspection was intense.

Now, if sales tax numbers are instructive, Aspen can seem to do no wrong. Sales tax collections in July were up 13.4 per cent, echoing a similarly strong June. That leaves the city taxes at 9.2 per cent ahead of last year going into August. Real estate tax revenues also continue to soar, reports The Aspen Times.

Meanwhile, the Times reports a similar story down-valley in Basalt, where sales tax revenues are up almost 10 per cent through July.

New plans for Copper

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. — Last year, county commissioners in Summit County used a word rarely heard in courthouses in ski counties of the West: No.

Intrawest has wanted to further develop the base area of Copper Mountain, doubling the size of the base-area resort, but the county commissioners said Intrawest wanted too many units without giving much back to the community. Plans for a gondola running through the resort base area were also divisive.

Now, Intrawest is back with what companies describe as "substantial differences" in their plans to build 639 additional units. This is a 45 per cent reduction in density from the previous plan while offering a 58 per cent increase in parking spaces, to 4,200 spaces. Intrawest also vows to provide more employee housing.

Intrawest’s argument is that it needs to increase the bed base to make Copper Mountain a viable resort, with a commercial sector that is thriving. Existing businesses are generally having a difficult time, the company says, despite the resort’s success with customers from Denver and other Front Range communities. The difficulty is at odds with Intrawest’s highly engineered approach to creating a seemingly authentic resort experience. Joe Whitehouse, Intrawest vice president for the Colorado region, told the Summit Daily News that the company hopes to get a plan formally before county officials by late this year.

Meanwhile, Intrawest representatives gave a cheerful report about revenues from privately owned real estate at Copper Mountain that is managed by the company. Occupancy last year was up 8 per cent as compared with the previous season, revenue per available room grew 22 per cent, and the average daily room rate was up $12 per cent.

Copper plans to upgrade snowmaking and other aspects of on-mountain operations.

Novelist gets Times cover

EAGLE, Colo. — Despite their emphasis on sweat and derring-do, ski towns over the years have had plenty of literary types.

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