Catholic Church nonprofit eyes Basalt for low-income housing | AspenTimes.com

Catholic Church nonprofit eyes Basalt for low-income housing

BASALT – The nonprofit housing arm of the Roman Catholic Church wants to build a low-income rental apartment complex in Basalt.

Archdiocesan Housing has applied to build 82 apartment units on the Jadwin property at 421 Emma Road, downvalley from the Basalt post office. The project wouldn’t have any free-market units, according to Archdiocesan director Josh Russell. All units would meet the town’s deed restrictions for affordable housing.

The Catholic organization will target Roaring Fork Valley residents that are at or below 60 percent of the area median income, Russell said. The apartment complex would be spread among seven buildings. Archdiocesan Housing would own and operate the complex. Residents must be legal residents of the U.S., although not necessarily citizens, he said.

The organization hopes a third proposal for housing in Basalt is a charm. It teamed with a developer early this decade for a proposal in Basalt’s Southside neighborhood, but the application was pulled after facing opposition. A second application with developer David Fiore near Basalt High School went nowhere because of land-use issues.

The housing organization, affiliated with the Denver Archdiocese, is trying again in Basalt because the demand is so great for affordable housing in the Roaring Fork Valley, and because the late Fritz and Fabi Benedict of Aspen provided a financial gift for housing in the valley.

Archdiocesan Housing already owns and operates rental projects in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs. Its board of directors wants to add a third project in Basalt.

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“So my mandate is clear,” Russell said.

For this project, Archdiocesan Housing is essentially taking over an application from some private-sector interests. Brent Wickam headed Jadwin Parcel Investors LLC. They applied to build a mix of affordable and free-market housing units. The review of the project was delayed in June 2008 when Basalt placed a moratorium on major new projects. The moratorium was lifted last month, but the financial market is unfavorable for private-sector development, and Wickam’s group was willing to negotiate with Archdiocesan Housing.

Russell said the project will provide replacement housing for the Roaring Fork Mobile Home Park, which is owned by Fiore and his firm, Western Peak LLC. It is a top priority for the town to shut down the trailer park and relocate the residents because studies show it could be imperiled by floods. The trailer park is home to about 50 families, so the affordable housing project would add 32 units to Basalt’s affordable housing inventory beyond the replacement housing.

Fiore and Western Peak are co-applicants with Archdiocesan Housing on the Jadwin project, something that puzzled Basalt Town Council members during an introduction to the project Tuesday night.

It was unclear from the comments of Fiore and Russell if the affordable housing project is tied somehow to Fiore’s desire to redevelop a portion of the trailer park site. Part of the property is outside the floodway and floodplain. Mayor Leroy Duroux said he wants all issues “out on the table” in future discussions.

Otherwise, the council looked at the project favorably. It will get an expedited review by the planning commission and council because it is 100 percent affordable housing.

“I, for one, have always wanted the Archdiocese to be here,” Councilwoman Jacque Whitsitt said. There is no affordable rental housing in Basalt, and Archdiocesan Housing can change that, she said.

The review of the project could start as soon as next month.

scondon@aspentimes.com

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