Retail sales in the city of Aspen for April were up 4 percent from the same period in 2011, according to a consumption sales tax report released Wednesday.
The clothing, automobile and general retail categories had the strongest gains, each with more than 29 percent increases from 2011. The construction and luxury goods categories had the largest declines. April generally accounts for only about 4 percent of the entire year’s sales and collections. Year-to-date retail sales are up 9 percent from the first four months of 2011.
Through April, lodging tax collections were up 9 percent from 2011.
Aspen’s portion of Pitkin County’s sales tax for March was down 14 percent from 2011. Despite the large drop in March, the first quarter of 2012 is still up 4 percent from 2011.
The Wheeler housing real estate transfer tax collections once again fell off considerably from 2011 with May’s collections declining 36 percent from the same period in 2011. Through the first five months of 2012, year-to-date collections are down 15 percent from 2011.
The Alfred Braun Hut System, a local nonprofit operator of six backcountry ski huts between Aspen and Crested Butte, has received final approval from various agencies to construct a seventh hut.
The application for a new hut on the Gunnison National Forest site has been pending for over four years. The Forest Service recently released a decision in favor of the hut, setting the stage for the project to move forward.
“For almost 50 years, the operation of alpine huts and hut skiing in the Ashcroft/Taylor Pass/Pearl Pass area has been considered an appropriate use of the National Forest,” reads the decision memo, signed by both the Gunnison and White River national forest supervisors.
The new hut, to be named Fred’s Hut in honor of Alfred Braun — the hut system’s original caretaker — will be located 1 1/2 miles south of Taylor Pass, in the Taylor River basin. The six other Braun Huts are near the southern boundary of the White River National Forest, so this new hut will act as a connector between the others. It will help with skiing trips between the Barnard, Markley, Goodwin Greene or Lindley Huts. The independent Friends Hut, just south of Pearl Pass and also in the Gunnison National Forest, will be part of the strengthened connections this new hut will foster between Crested Butte and Aspen. Construction of the new hut is expected to start in July.
While funding for the project will come in large part from a donation by Tony Mollica and family, in memory of Jim Mollica, contributions are being solicited for various aspects of the hut. The construction project has been awarded to Rutgers Construction, a local Roaring Fork Valley firm.
The nonprofit Alfred Braun Hut System is approaching its 50th year of offering backcountry skiing enthusiasts rustic refuges near Ashcroft in the Elk Mountains between Aspen and Crested Butte. The huts are open to the public during the winter months and are booked through the Tenth Mountain reservations office. More information is available through the Huts.org website. Anyone wishing to volunteer time or donate money to the new hut, or for the existing six huts, should contact Hawk Greenway at 970 920-7859.