Aspen's West End is elegant and historic, complete with tree-lined streets, Victorians and upscale modern dwellings. A quiet sanctuary of an old established neighborhood, the West End is considered by many to be the "choice" neighborhood. It's quiet and within walking distance to several cultural and intellectual hubs: the Benedict Music Tent, Harris Concert Hall, Hallam Lake, the Rio Grande Trail and The Aspen Institute, just to name a few. The West End is also only minutes away from the grocery story, post office and hardware store, as well as being close to all of downtown Aspen's shopping, restaurants and nightlife.
This week our blog team sits downs with Frias broker Anne Burrows to talk about the importance of the West End, and how it might just be a perfect fit for your next home purchase. Anne raised her son in the West End, so she knows a thing or two about it. Here we go!
Q: Is the West End a big neighborhood?
A: "Yes, the West End is a fairly big neighborhood. It encompasses most of the area north of Main Street and basically starts at the Hotel Jerome at the corner of Mill and Main Streets and runs out to the S-curves at 7th Street. From Main Street, it runs in a northerly direction out to the Benedict Music Tent and The Aspen Institute campus."
Q: If you were to describe this neighborhood to a friend who has never been to Aspen, how would you describe it?
A: "The West End neighborhood is a mix of small miners' cottages that capture the essence of Aspen's silver mining days and larger Victorian homes with engaging architectural details. Sprinkled among the Victorians are traditional and more contemporary homes, all of which add vibrancy to the neighborhood. The neighborhood has quiet, tree-lined streets, small parks and homes with truly spectacular summer gardens."
Q: Tell us a little about the history of this neighborhood.
A: "According to the Aspen Historical Society's website, prospectors looking for silver, started arriving in the area in 1879. That same year, a man named Henry B. Gillespie arrived to examine a mine and subsequently laid out a town which he named 'Ute City.' In 1880, B. Clark Wheeler surveyed the town site and renamed it Aspen. By 1881, the population increased to 500 and by 1893, Aspen reached a peak population of 10,000 to 16,000. Many of Aspen's streets and buildings are named after these early settlers. For a taste of local history, be sure to visit the Wheeler/Stoddard House museum in the West End. You'll find it on Bleeker Street between 5th and 6th."
Q: Are the homes original, mostly remodeled or overall new builds?
A: Again, the West End is a mix of 1890s-era Victorians along with traditional and contemporary homes. Many buyers choose older homes and then opt to remodel them. For the most part, original Victorians must be preserved. Aspen cherishes its history and strong historic preservation regulations insure that the historic character of the neighborhood is preserved while still allowing for modern upgrades and additions. As you walk around the West End, see if you can spot classic Victorians that have been preserved but enlarged with what some call a 'bustle.'"
Q: Discuss this neighborhood's proximity to town and the amenities and activities located nearby.
A: "The Aspen Music Festival tent, Harris Concert Hall, The Aspen Institute, the Aspen Center for Physics and the Red Brick Community Art Center are all located in the West End. Downtown Aspen is an easy walk or bike ride away and the neighborhood is served by the cross-town shuttle."
Q: Tell us about the recreational opportunities nearby.
A: "All of Aspen's hiking, biking and walking trails are literally minutes away from the West End. It really seems like everything you need or want to do is just five minutes away."
Q: Are there a lot of parks?
A: "Small 'pocket' parks are scattered throughout the West End, some of which provide picnic tables for those who want a different lunch-time experience or a quiet place to read and relax."
Q: Are there a lot of full-time, live-in residents in this neighborhood or is it mostly second-home owners?
A: "The West End is a blend of permanent residents and second-home owners, all of whom who appreciate the close proximity to the Benedict Music Tent and downtown Aspen."
Q: How often do buying opportunities come along in this neighborhood?
A: "There is generally a good selection of single-family homes and duplex units in all shapes, sizes and price ranges. Sales of existing homes have been brisk in recent months and new listings become available on a regular basis. Vacant building sites are scarce and often difficult to find."
Q: From an investment standpoint, why should I buy property in this neighborhood?
A: "West End properties are always in demand. Enough said!"
Q: Is there solid rental potential if I buy in this neighborhood?
A: "Yes. The West End is considered to be one of Aspen's preferred areas, particularly in the summer when the Music Festival is in full swing. Rental guests, as well as permanent residents, value the ability to walk or ride bikes to the Benedict Music Tent, the Aspen Institute campus and downtown restaurants and nightlife."
Q: Is this neighborhood a good place to raise a family?
A: "Absolutely! My son was raised in the West End and frequently rode his bikes to school via a bike path. He could also walk or ride to the ice rink for hockey practice or to friends' houses. The Aspen School District provides bus service to the elementary, middle and high schools located just minutes away on Maroon Creek Road."
Q: Is this a pet-friendly neighborhood?
A: "Of course. Many families have a dog or two and can be seen out and about walking their pets and visiting with neighbors at just about any time of day."