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December 6, 2013
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Basalt housing project suffers setback

The Denver Catholic Archdiocese’s plan to build a 66-unit, low-income rental housing project at Willits Town Center in Basalt has suffered at least a temporary setback.

The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority didn’t approve the project for tax credits this fall. Those credits were essential to the funding of the project.

“Sometimes good projects don’t get selected,” said Josh Russell, executive director of Archdiocesan Housing Inc., the housing branch of the archdiocese.

If the project had been approved, Archdiocesan Housing would have sold the credits to investors to raise funds needed for construction. Russell said he would apply for tax credits for the Basalt project again in March, which is the next cycle. Archdiocesan Housing remains committed to the project, he said.

The nonprofit entity has a $2 million donation from the late Frtiz and Fabi Benedict, of Aspen, to apply to the housing project. They earmarked the grant for an affordable-housing project in the Roaring Fork Valley.

The plan is to build one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. Rents would range from $700 to $1,150 per month. Households with incomes between $30,000 and $50,000 would be targeted.

Russell said he was disappointed that the project wasn’t selected, but he still believes it has a good chance at earning the tax credits. Russell, Basalt Town Manager Mike Scanlon and Willits representative Tim Belinski talked to members ofthe Colorado Housing and Finance Authority about the project after it wasn’t selected for credits in this cycle.

“They liked it,” Russell said. “They just didn’t have the money to fund them all.”

About 20 percent of the projects that applied for tax credits were selected in the fall cycle, according to Russell. He said he has had past projects earn funding on the first request, while others needed a second chance.

The decision creates a dilemma for Mariner Real Estate Management Inc., the owner and developer of Willits Town Center. Mariner must provide affordable housing before it advances much further with its development plan, according to its approvals from Basalt. Mariner was going to sell property to Archdiocesan Housing for the housing project. The project would have covered Mariner’s affordable-housing mitigation plus additional units.

Willits Town Center is approved for about 500,000 square feet of commercial and residential space. About half has been developed.

Belinski said Mariner is exploring its options for affordable housing.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Dec 6, 2013 11:31AM Published Dec 6, 2013 12:00AM Copyright 2013 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.