Willits, the new Basalt mid-valley neighborhood sprang up over the last decade, opening in 2001, and attracted a plethora of first-time home buyers backed by ultimately unsustainable bank loans and investors hoping to get in on the ground floor of the new midvalley development, according to local real estate brokers.The centerpiece of it was to be Willits Town Center, a commercial core including restaurants, retail shops and a 44,000-square-foot Whole Foods store. Its developers also are currently in foreclosure and the store site, excavated but never built on, today is a hole in the ground.

ASPEN REAL ESTATE – MID-VALLEY: A disproportionately high number of homes in the Willits neighborhood in Basalt have fallen into foreclosure, as the relatively new subdivisions there faced consequences from the national economic downturn and local real estate market breakdown.As the real estate boom grew, the houses and condos there sold at prices few expect them to reach again, with some homes topping $1 million. As the market was on the upswing and the neighborhood was growing, the New York Times published a February 2005 article in its real estate section about Basalt’s surging popularity. It characterized the Willits area as a hip and affordable new alternative to buying in Aspen and highlighted “ultramodern, SoHo-style lofts” that were under construction at the time at Town Center…Home values in Willits dropped rapidly as the Whole Foods project died and the economy buckled in late 2008. Now, homes are on average valued 30 to 50 percent less than what they sold for.
By Andrew Travers, Jan. 20, 2011 Aspen Daily News

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01/20/11 Aspen Daily News Photo