Blog note: This is part two in a two-part feature series on Chuck Frias. Part one was published last week.
By 1985, two-bedroom condominiums in Aspen were selling for around $200,000 and rental lodging commanded close to $200 a night. After 11 years at Coates Reid Waldron, Chuck Frias became a Limited Partner and General Manager of operations for the Aspen Club Properties, Aspen Club Real Estate and the Aspen Club Lodge. He was in charge of property management, real estate, and what is now the Sky Hotel. In this new position, he saw usage patterns in Aspen begin to change during the late-1980s and into the 1990s.
"Aspen owners were older and more financially successful - with older kids," Chuck said. "They had more time to visit in the winter and summer. Aspen property owners started to become true second-home owners and integrated into the Aspen community. More rental guests and owners started to come from California, Florida and Texas, as well as the wealthy areas of the Midwest, Northeast and Denver."
It was during this time that Aspen locals began to get priced out of Aspen, leading to down-valley growth in communities such as El Jebel, Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs as Aspen employees searched for affordable housing, Chuck said. "Aspen employees were less focused on skiing and more on other community attributes," Chuck said. "Employees moved out of town due to price and affordability, if they wanted to own."
In the mid-1980s, second-home owners increased and lived most of the year in Aspen. Many made their incomes from their hometowns and had lots of time to enjoy the Aspen community. Year-round events started to become more popular and drive business during the events. Rental patterns changed again as other destination ski resorts entered the picture from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s and started to become attractive to potential Aspen guests. "The number of destination properties possibly doubled within that 20-year period," Chuck said. "The length of stay started to diminish, as did the advance time customers booked lodging. National marketing became important with increased competition."
In 2000, Chuck was presented with an opportunity to partner with another local property management company with a great young leader, Tim Clark. Tim was born in Aspen, graduated from Aspen High School and the University of Colorado, had returned to Aspen in 1988 and started in property management with Dolomite Villas Management. Over the years, Tim acquired and merged with other Aspen-area companies, growing his company to Aspen Classic Properties. The merger between Tim and Chuck's companies into Frias Properties of Aspen in 2000 made them 50/50 partners.By the mid-1990s, a two-bedroom condominium in the Aspen core was selling for around $400,000 and rented for $300 a night. In 1994, Aspen Club Properties was sold to another company, but Chuck continued to manage the company and purchased the remaining interest in 1998. He changed the name to Frias Properties of Aspen and retained all contracts and staff.
"Since 2000, rental rates as well as real estate prices soared," Chuck said. "More second-home owners moved to Aspen. Owners or rental properties used their units more often, reducing inventory. Many small lodges closed due to being less competitive as the land value for real estate exceeded the value of the business. Many more types of residents and businesses moved to Aspen, as have international luxury retailers."
In 2009, the company persevered through the market downturn without laying off any staff. "We made it through the recession when a lot of our competition was downsizing,"he said. "We have withstood the test of time and our employees were loyal and devoted."By 2005, a two-bedroom condominium in downtown Aspen was going for around $1.2 million and rented for about $475 per night. During this time, Frias Properties of Aspen continued to grow and acquire properties. In 2009, Frias Properties acquired ResortQuest's Aspen properties. The acquisition brought along more change, as Frias upgraded its company technology for owners, guests and staff, as well as a complete website redesign of FriasProperties.com and FriasAspen.com.
Today, Frias Properties of Aspen employs accountants, brokers, concierge, front desk staff, housekeepers, maintenance staff, reservations staff, sales and marketing staff and owner's services representatives. The company's main office is located at 730 E. Durant Ave., and has two satellite front desk locations: Fasching Haus, 747 S. Galena St. and Silverglo, 940 Waters Ave. The company currently offers Aspen vacation lodging at more than 40 different condominium complexes, as well as rentals in the local luxury properties Hyatt Grand Aspen, Innsbruck, St. Regis Residence Club and the Ritz-Carlton Club at Aspen Highlands.
A devoted father, husband, skier, golfer and biker, Chuck still lives in the Meadowood neighborhood where he raised two grown children with his wife, Marilyn. He has served on or held executive seats on many local nonprofit boards, including the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, Aspen Valley Hospital, Aspen School District Finance Board, Aspen Valley Medical Foundation, Meadowood Homeowners, Trout Unlimited and the Aspen Lodging Association.