A tale of two cabins: History looking for a home — Deep Powder cabin a tough sell

by Curtis Wackerle, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer

A 1950s-era tourist cabin for sale by the city of Aspen is proving most difficult to get rid of due to the high cost of hauling it away, although it’s still on the market if anyone is interested.

The Deep Powder cabins were part of Aspen’s lodging inventory for about 50 years, but were displaced by the redevelopment of the Limelight Lodge. Figuring there was historic value, the city saved two of the cabins, and has been looking for preservation-minded owners since 2006. The cabins have been sitting at the edge of Willoughby Park since then.

No one local could be found, so in March, the cabins were listed on PublicSurplus.com, an eBay-like website for government property. The two cabins sold for $500.99 and $661. However, the buyer of the more expensive cabin pulled out, telling the city he could not get a permit to haul the 600-square-foot cabin across state lines. The buyer of the cheaper cabin is still planning to pick up his purchase, and will be breaking it up into pieces for the move to Divide, Colo., said city historic preservation planner Sara Adams.

Since the first buyer of the more expensive cabin pulled out, three other potential owners have come and gone via PublicSurplus.com auction, Adams said.

 Heather Rousseau/Aspen Daily News
The city of Aspen is trying to sell this old cabin from the 1950s-era Deep Powder Lodge on PublicSurplus.com. It initially sold for $661 last month, but the buyer has since pulled out.

“It really wasn’t working out,” Adams said. “People weren’t doing their homework.”

The city’s current strategy is a “sealed auction.” A classified ad listing asks interested buyers to bid what they think the cabin is worth and send the offer into City Hall. The highest bidder will get the cabin. The auction is scheduled to end Wednesday, but the city could extend the time frame, as no bids have been received yet, Adams said.

“We’re trying to attract a more local crowd,” she said. “It’s better to keep it in the valley anyway.”

With moving costs for the cabin expected to be in the $10,000 range, Adams said the city has not yet gotten to the point where it has offered to take on some of those costs.

While the landfill is an option, Adams said she’s doing everything she can to avoid that.

“I’ve talked to everyone I can think of to see if anyone can use them,” she said. That includes the Forest Service, the Aspen Skiing Co., the Aspen Historical Society and other local groups. But no takers.

The cabin could perhaps be used as an “accessory dwelling unit” as required by local employee housing rules, if someone wanted to move it onto their property. Moving costs would be less if the cabin stayed in town.