Experts say second-home development will slow for immediate future and Garfield County’s gas drilling may level off.
-The two engines that superheated the economies of Aspen and western Colorado for most of this decade are getting chilled by the national economic meltdown, two experts said Friday.
-Second-home development has already tumbled and activity will continue to be slow for the foreseeable future, according to Jim Westkott, the senior demographer for the state of Colorado.
-And the frenetic pace of drilling for natural gas in western Garfield County will likely level off because of the economy and infrastructure limitations, said Ben Alexander, associate director of a nonprofit research group called Headwaters Economics.

By Scott Condon, Oct 25, 2008, The Aspen Times, Glenwood Springs, Colorado

The men were featured speakers at the annual State of the Valley conference hosted Healthy Mountain Communities in Glenwood Springs on Friday. Healthy Mountain Communities is a Roaring Fork Valley-based nonprofit that helps governments in the region identify issues and solutions.

Westkott said tourism in the Roaring Fork Valley will be hurt by the national economic climate and that a recession will result in the loss of some jobs in the retail and service sectors. Second-home development “will slow considerably,” he said.

Inflated real estate prices haven’t deterred aging baby boomers from gobbling property in Aspen and other mountain paradises in recent years, Westkott said. Their influx and the jobs they create through demands for service have spurred explosive growth in western Colorado.

The drastic drop in second-home development has convinced Westkott and his staff to reconsider growth projections. They don’t believe Eagle and Pitkin counties will grow as fast as they projected as recently as last year — although both counties will continue to grow.

He said the baby boomers will flock to places like Aspen and Vail once the economy improves, and that the current slump creates no reason to panic. “You don’t need to go off chasing bucks,” Westkott said.

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