Two longtime Aspenites stood in front of the county building Monday trading detailed notes about comparable sales in their neighborhood.
A veteran local banker was greeted by an acquaintance in a crosswalk on Friday with, “Hey, how’s that valuation fight going?”
Pitkin County administrator Jeanette Jones is swamped with paperwork from property owners appealing to the board of equalization.
Aspen is suddenly full of people arguing that their real estate is worth less than the assessor thinks it is.
Not too long ago, property owners here used to simply ponder how to spend the windfall from selling their property in an ever-rising market.
There are 15,818 parcels of property in Pitkin County. After estimating their market value, the county assessor sent out his numbers. In return, he got 4,597 valuation protests.
The protests were reviewed in June and the assessor lowered the value of 1,683 properties — about one-third of those that were protested — by anywhere from $1,000 to $25 million. But he left the values of 2,910 parcels — or about two-thirds — unchanged.
So, of those who protested, who “won?” And who “lost?” If you take one-third of all property owners in Pitkin County, with an emphasis on those who pay attention to their tax bills, or have attorneys who do, and put them on a publicly available list, some names are likely to catch your attention.
Some names are instantly recognizable, like Aspen Skiing Company LLC, which did not get an adjustment on its still luxurious Little Nell valuation. Some will have creative names like “Crazy Woman Investments LLC” or “Chill LTD.” Some will be nationally prominent or locally prominent.
Some will have gotten an adjustment, while some will have been denied a change in their valuation.
Here’s a few that stand out.
Nationally prominent, got a downward adjustment
— Prince Bandar: residence initially valued at $113 million, adjusted by $25 million. Prince Bandar is a senior member of the Saudi royal family.
— Gretchen Bleiler: residence valued at $733,600, adjusted by $38,500. Bleiler is a professional snowboarder and an Olympic silver medalist.
— Robert Wagner and Jill St. John: residence valued at $8.6 million, adjusted by $797,900. Both are television and movie stars.
— Gerald Greenwald: residence valued at $26.4 million, adjusted by $2.4 million. Greenwald is the former head of United Airlines.
— Chris Davenport: residence valued at $1.3 million, adjusted by $150,000. Davenport is a professional mountaineer, skier and sports announcer.
Nationally prominent, did not get an adjustment
— Kenneth D. Lewis: residence valued at $19.6 million, no adjustment. Lewis is CEO and president of Bank of America.
— Leonard and Evelyn Lauder: several residences, each over $6 million, no adjustments. Leonard Lauder is chairman of the Estee Lauder Companies.
— Perry Weitz: residence valued at $39 million, no adjustment. Weitz is a prominent New York attorney.
— Janet Guthrie: residence valued at $4.3 million, no adjustment. Guthrie was the first woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500.
Locally prominent, got an adjustment
— Helen Klanderud: residence was valued at $4.7 million, adjusted by $578,900. Former mayor of Aspen.
— Bill Stirling: condo valued at $1.2 million, adjusted by $311,100. Former mayor of Aspen.
— Ernie Fyrwald: residence was valued at $10 million, adjusted by $1.2 million. Fyrwald is an elected member of the Aspen School District board.
— Alison Berkley: residence was valued at $494,100, adjusted $62,000. Berkley is a columnist for The Aspen Times and a freelance writer.
— Tony Mazza: residence was valued at $18.6 million, adjusted by $1.2 million. Mazza is one of Aspen’s largest commercial landlords.
— Michael Lipkin: residence was valued at $11 million, adjusted by $1 million. Lipkin is the architect and original developer of Willits Town Center.
— John Sarpa: residence was valued at $3.3 million, adjusted by $829,000. Sarpa is one of the developers of the proposed Lodge at Aspen Mountain.
— Amy Margerum: residence was valued at $6.6 million, adjusted by $185,500. Margerum is executive vice-president of operations at the Aspen Institute and a former Aspen city manager.
Locally prominent, did not get an
— John Bennett: residence valued $2.6 million, no adjustment. Bennett is a former mayor of Aspen.
— Andy Hecht: residence valued at $5.1 million, no adjustment. Hecht is a prominent attorney in Aspen.
— Troy Hooper: residence valued at $409,800, no adjustment. Hooper is the editor of the Aspen Daily News.
— Ann Denver: residence valued at $8.8 million, no adjustment. Denver was married to singer John Denver.
— Jeff T. Blau: residence valued at $2.3 million, no adjustment. Blau is the president of The Related Cos., which is developing Base Village.
Be careful what you ask for
Those mentioned above either got a reduction in their values or they got an adjustment of “zero.”
In all, there were 106 adjustments that took between $1 million and $2 million off of a property’s value from the initial estimate.
There were 24 adjustments that reduced values between $2 million and $3 million, four adjustments in the $5 million range, and two adjustments of approximately $9 million.
Alone at the top was the royal adjustment of $25 million for Prince Bandar’s estate.
But there were also six property owners who are in a completely different class. They protested, got a review — and their values went up.
David Eckardt got $20,000 in value added on to an initial valuation of $119,500.
Howard Vagneur had $20,500 added on to the initial value of $1.8 million for his mobile home on Lower Woody Creek Road.
PT Ranch House LLC got bumped up $78,000 on a $10.7 million home in lower Castle Creek, and Janmar LLC got $290,800 added onto its initial valuation $1.9 million.
And Govt 33 LLC got an additional $750,000 on top of its initial $2.3 million.
“It happens,” Isaac said, noting that new information is frequently brought to the table in a protest review, which changes valuations.
Property owners who protested and are not happy with the result have until Wednesday, July 15 to appeal the assessor’s review through the county board of equalization process. Those 15-minute hearings are being scheduled through July, and will producer winners and losers in the Aspen valuation debate.