“Aspen Mayor Ireland is spot on when he writes that “We cannot reform the national economy but we can dampen some of the excess” through zoning. “Sunnier streets and small-town feel are not recession proof but offer our best opportunity to sustain Aspen’s premier resort.”
Aspen has a problem that many towns would envy: too many rich people. It’s leaders and businesspeople are constantly grappling with how to maintain the town’s natural beauty and culture while also accommodating an ever-richer breed of resident. The mansions get bigger, the luxury stores more numerous and the Escalades and Land Rovers more ubiquitous. The median home price now tops $6 million – and many of those owners are only in Aspen three or four weeks a year. And now Aspen’s culture wars are coming to a head with a new real-estate development. And “The High Beta Rich” — which chronicles some of Aspen’s class struggles — is fueling debate on both sides.
By Robert Frank, Feb. 6, 12 WSJ Wealth Report
Jan 20, 12 Letter to Editor: Aspen Mayor Calls Developer “Extortionist”
Jan 26, 12 Columnist Says Mayor’s Remarks “Unbecoming”
Feb 2, 12 AT Robert Frank responds in Letter to Editor, “The little book behind the Little Annie’s battle,” …“As for Aspen, my point in the book is that like many affluent communities, Aspen is now more closely tied to volatile financial markets, asset bubbles and leverage. That’s created a more manic real estate market (with price increases and declines outpacing the country), a more discretionary retail economy (built on luxury) and a more stratified, “velvet rope” society dominated by the transient wealthy.” And “While (the wealthy) have brought visible improvements and huge amounts of money, they have also created economic and social messes that have proven difficult for others to clean up. A town that once prided itself on its display of millionaires and billionaires is now learning the downside of depending on the high-beta rich.”