Prospects bright for Basalt housing plan
March 4, 2014
It looks likely that a 56-unit, low-income apartment complex will get constructed in Basalt, thanks to a public-private partnership, according to Town Manager Mike Scanlon.
Scanlon told the Town Council at a Feb. 25 meeting that the Pitkin County commissioners expressed a willingness to help the town invest in the project.
“I think we’re going to see them contributing significantly more” than Basalt officials originally anticipated, Scanlon said.
As envisioned now, the governments would fund the purchase of the housing site. Either Basalt would own the site or the town and Pitkin County would hold it jointly, Scanlon said. The site would be leased long term, at least 99 years, to RealAmerica Development LLC, a private developer of low-income housing.
“This is kind of a big deal for the town.”
Scanlon placed the odds of building the project at “more than 90 percent” in an interview after the council meeting. Representatives of both governments said previously that they are interested in the project because it is aimed at the lowest wage earners.
The housing site is adjacent to Stubbies Bar along Highway 82 in Basalt. The current owner poured a concrete foundation for a hotel, but the project stalled during the recession.
Bruce Kimmel, a public finance consultant for the town, said an engineer from RealAmerica’s staff and a consulting engineer from the Basalt area examined the foundation and determined it can still be used for the apartment complex.
“A big question has effectively been eliminated,” he said. Using the foundation will help keep the cost of the project down.
Scanlon said RealAmerica is scheduled to complete the purchase of the site in mid-March but is negotiating to extend the deadline. Scanlon and Kimmel said the purchase price is $1.8 million.
The Town Council approved a pre-development agreement with RealAmerica that affirms the government’s interest in working with the private firm on the apartment complex. The agreement is designed to assure the current owner that the governments are intent on working with RealAmerica in the purchase and to help the company secure a loan to build the project, Scanlon said.
The town government also is passing regulations that would allow developers that must build affordable housing as part of their project to buy credits in the RealAmerica apartment building. That would allow them to mitigate their affordable-housing requirements at RealAmerica’s project.
Basalt and Pitkin County also would have the option of acquiring units, Scanlon said.
Kimmel said details of the partnership must be worked out among Basalt, Pitkin County and RealAmerica, but the foundation of a deal is set.
“This is kind of a big deal for the town,” he said.