A home for the holidays
Aspen, CO ColoradoASPEN For Scott and Heather Phipps, one of the best Christmas gifts this year is celebrating the holidays in a new home. After spending four years in a two-bedroom caretaker’s unit in Snowmass, the couple recently won a three-bedroom unit in Aspen’s Burlingame housing lottery and moved in Nov. 18. While in Snowmass, they welcomed daughter Hadley, now 2, and son Ty, 1.Hadley “was a surprise, and after we got pregnant with her, we started getting into the employee housing lottery,” Heather Phipps said. “It was tough having such a small place and trying to not get in each other’s way. We didn’t have a yard or anything to play in.”It took two and a half years, but the family finally has found a home.”Our unit definitely feels like a home, and now that more people have moved in, it’s beginning to feel like a community,” she said.Several of the neighbors have children close in age to Hadley and Ty, meaning the Phipps children will have playmates nearby for the first time – many of the neighbors at their old home were second-home owners and often not around. The complex originally felt a little like a ghost town, Phipps said, but it was peaceful. As the city continues work on the development, its beginning to feel more like a neighborhood. Phipps is excited to think about how the community will take shape as more people move in over the coming years. The current occupants recently got mailboxes and can now get their mail without having to go to the post office in town. Bus service hasnt started yet, but Phipps said the city has provided vouchers for Dial- A- Ride until it begins van service early next year.Phipps real dream, though, is to have playground equipment for the kids in Burlingames common areas. The family still doesnt have a yard, but Burlingame has several common areas where kids can play when the weather improves. We are hoping that the powers that be change their minds and put one in, Phipps said. Without it, Phipps said, shell have to cart her children into town to find a playground, which means riding the bus, and thats difficult with a stroller and a couple small children and diapers. You dont have enough arms. Assistant City Manager Bentley Henderson said the city doesnt have plans to install playground equipment, but once the project is finished and the homeowners association takes over, residents can consider that as an option. Henderson didnt know what the zoning rules are regarding playground equipment for Burlingames open spaces, but he said the new homeowners association could request permission from the Aspen City Council to add playground equipment if its not already permitted. Another potential headache for residents is that the city has deliberately underparked the development to be more environmentally friendly. The idea is, more people will take the bus or walk into town. Henderson said there are enough parking spaces for 1.6 cars per unit. Each unit gets one space, and those who would like a second may rent one. Right now, thats not a problem for the few residents who have moved in. The city is renting the spaces on a first- come, first- served basis, but Henderson said he didnt know how the homeowners association would handle the situation if there is greater demand once the development is full perhaps another lottery system. That, too, he said will be up to the association once the development is complete. Phipps said they have two cars and had hoped a family of two would be allowed two cars. It seems like most families today are two- car families. But, she said, Its really more important for us to have a roof over our heads than a second car. Despite some of compromises, Phipps said the affordable housing development is a real boon to her and her growing family. Our view of the ideal home for our family has changed over time, she said. They might have preferred a larger house or more bedrooms the kids still share a room so they can have a playroom in the third bedroom. But the couple was willing to trade some square footage for amenities the family couldnt find in a condominium. They enjoy living in Aspen, but like a lot of locals, winning an affordable housing lottery was the only way they could afford a family- friendly home near town or even downvalley. We preferred not to live in a big apartment complex, Phipps said. We wanted our children to live either close to a park or have some sort of yard to play in without street traffic. As of last week, 13 families had closed on their homes at Burlingame. The Phippses were the second family to move in, and Heather said shes grateful for the company. On a colder note, roughly a dozen families that expected to close by Christmas have seen their closing dates pushed back, in some cases indefinitely. According to Housing Director Tom McCabe, it took extra time getting approvals for fire alarms and sprinkler systems, and other units had trouble with water meters. Those problems have since cleared up, but a half- dozen other buyers, all in the same building, dont have closing dates. Henderson said Burlingames contractor, Shaw Construction, recently discovered the units in that building are missing a support beam that is on the plans but wasnt installed. Shaw is working to install the missing beams, but the city doesnt have a timeline yet, so Henderson hasnt been able to give officials at the housing office a new closing date to tell buyers. Henderson and McCabe both said they hope to avoid similar delays in the next lottery either by holding the lottery later in the building process or by not setting closing dates until its clear that buyers will be able to move in. Abigail Eagyes e- mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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