Head for the Hills

Two mountain ranges, three counties and 150 miles separate Crested Butte and Telluride. But these beloved Colorado mountain towns share a similar narrative. Both served as summer residence to the nomadic Ute Indian tribe, who came for the abundant food sources. Later, prospectors arrived in search of gold, silver and coal, building the colorful Victorian homes for which both towns are now recognized. In the 1960s and 1970s, after a long depressed period, the towns reinvented themselves as world-class skiing and outdoor-recreation destinations.

Today, they’re celebrated statewide for breathtaking views, endless trails and a noteworthy lack of mountain-town sprawl. The latter is thanks, in part, to each town’s strong conservation spirit—earlier this year, Crested Butte purchased 300 acres in the Slate River Valley to be preserved as open space; donors helped Telluride make a similar purchase in 2009

So it’s only natural that these two mountain towns also share a similar trajectory with real estate numbers: 2009 was dismal, 2010 is up, up, up. In May, the number of real estate transactions in San Miguel County (home to Telluride) was up 45 percent from the previous year, according to Telluride Consulting, an independent real estate data research firm. Residential sales in Crested Butte doubled in the same time period, according to Diane Aronovic, broker with Red Lady Realty in Crested Butte

“With the global recovery, high-end resorts with limited supply are the first properties to rebound,” says Steve Catsman, director of Telluride Real Estate Corporation. People will continue to buy for the lifestyle, he explains. Which is why, says Teddy Errico, president of the Telluride Association of Realtors, the high-end, ski-in/ski-out properties in Telluride’s Mountain Village neighborhood are “on fire.” There is still a lot of cachet in owning a Colorado mountain home, he explains—particularly for out-of-town buyers who can qualify for loans for more than $3 million.  Check out the list on the right for a roundup of hot properties for the million-plus set.

Three high-end, new-construction projects to watch in Telluride and Crested Butte.

Element 52
Location: Historic Downtown Telluride
Completion Date: Fall 2010
Details: 34 units in seven buildings; studios, condominiums and townhomes, ranging from 600-5,500 square feet; “mining contemporary” architecture; on-site spa and fitness center; ski valet and private ski lift with access to Telluride Mountain Resort. (Fun fact: named after tellurium, the 52nd element of the periodic table and Telluride’s namesake)
Price: $780,000-$8,000,000
More Info: element52.com


Townhomes on the Creek
Location: Telluride Mountain Village
Completion Date: Spring 2010
Details: 19 units; 2,600-4,300 square feet; 4 bedrooms per unit; log-and-stone exterior; walnut floors, custom cabinets and Viking appliances; ski-in, ski-out access; walking distance to gondola and retail center
Price: $1,900,000-$3,600,000
More Info: townhomestelluride.com


Wilder on the Taylor
Location: Almont (between Crested Butte and Gunnison) on the Taylor River
Completion Date: Ongoing
Details: 2,000-acre shared ranch and recreation preserve; 35-acre private homestead sites; river access
Price: Starting at $2.9 million
More Info: wildercolorado.com

Categories: Exteriors