Habitat for Humanity is nearing a deal with the Aspen Pitkin County Housing Authority for a Cooper Avenue lot it wants to convert into low-income housing despite a separate bid for the lot from an unidentified third party.
On March 5, Greg Gordon, an attorney for Garfield & Hecht P.C., told the Housing Authority that his client, whom he chose not to identify, was prepared to make a “substantial offer”. On Wednesday, members of the Housing Authority received that offer from the still-unidentified party and determined it to be inadequate. That leaves Habitat as the lone suitor for the property.
“You’re the only horse in the race,” the Housing Authority board member Ron Erickson told the president of Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork Valley, Scott Gilbert, who attended Wednesday’s housing board meeting.
The two sides are expected to sign a nonbinding predevelopment agreement April 2. Once official terms are agreed upon, Habitat plans to build a duplex, offering two three-bedroom units at Aspen’s lowest income category. Neither the city of Aspen nor Pitkin County has built any units in the lowest income category itself, though a handful have been built as affordable-housing mitigation. Gilbert said it’s a great example of governmental and nonprofit sectors working together.
“We’re really excited about the prospect of partnering with the Housing Authority, and we’re thrilled about the opportunity to create affordable living in Aspen,” Gilbert said, adding that it will be affordable living, not affordable housing, because of the lot’s prime location.
The predevelopment agreement will spell out each side’s responsibilities. The Housing Authority will offer the lot, while Habitat will agree to build the housing, generally speaking. Exact specifics will be hammered out later.
Habitat will seek applicants making between $25,000 and $57,000 per year for the entire household, Gilbert said, and families living in Aspen will be preferred. Habitat finances the loans so that banks aren’t involved in the selection process. Gilbert said families are selected that are willing to participate in the construction process and would be responsible owners.