Second party shows interest in potential Habitat housing space
March 8, 2014
An unidentified party is prepared to make an offer for the Cooper Avenue lot that Habitat for Humanity has been eying for low-income housing in Aspen.
Greg Gordon, an attorney for Garfield & Hecht P.C., told the Aspen Pitkin County Housing Authority on Wednesday that his client is prepared to make a "substantial offer" for the 1230 E. Cooper Ave. lot — if the property's deed restriction can be lifted. Gordon said that if removing the covenant proves difficult, his client is fine without making an offer. He did not name the interested party or offer an exact number for the potential offer.
Housing Authority board member Steve Stunda said he appreciates the confidential position that Gordon is in, but it would be nice to have an identification of the potential purchaser, a draft of the proposal and the numbers involved, adding that he can't get behind a project with so many unknowns.
Board member Marcia Goshorn pointed out that "there isn't a 6,000-square-foot lot in this town for under $3 million, so it would have to be more substantial than that."
Housing Authority Executive Director Tom McCabe said that removing the deed restriction might be challenging, though not impossible. He said the housing mitigation potentially could be transferred from the Cooper Avenue space to another.
Gordon stressed that he and his client are not against Habitat for Humanity opening an Aspen location and that he has exchanged emails with the nonprofit. He said that if his client moves forward with an offer, it would include a "generous donation" to Habitat.
Scott Gilbert, president of Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork Valley, who attended Wednesday's meeting, said his organization "is observing the process and looking forward to the Housing Authority making a decision."
In February, the Housing Authority reviewed Gilbert's plans, which call for a duplex to be built on the site. Habitat and the Housing Authority would sell the three-bedroom units to families in the lowest income category. They would consider applicants making between $25,000 and $57,000 per year for the entire household, Gilbert said.
Gordon, who has appeared at a number of housing board meetings on the matter, said he has no intention of stringing the board along. He said he would talk to his client about making an offer and then contact the board. He said his client's sentiment is that anything built on the lot is better than what is there currently. Throughout the meeting, he stressed that the offer will depend on the covenant.
"There's not going to be a number unless it's unfettered, and if it's going to be a non-starter, there's no point in continuing," he said.