A home of their own? | AspenTimes.com

A home of their own?

John Colson

It’s been nearly a quarter-century since residents of the Woody Creek Trailer Park first tried to take individual ownership of the land they live on. And, and at long last, it appears about ready to happen.According to Woody Creek Homeowners Association President Lanny Curtis, the final negotiations with Community Banks of Colorado are nearing completion. The deal will provide the association with the money it needs to undertake much-needed improvements to the park.And as those improvements happen, the association will begin the long-anticipated sale of the lots beneath the trailers.The park is located just behind the Woody Creek Tavern and the Woody Creek Store on Upper River Road; it has been a trailer park since the mid-1960s.The association has owned the park since October 2005, when it took out an initial $1.85 million loan to buy it from the county, which had purchased the park from former owner Mary Jane Underwood. A subdivision proposal, approved by Pitkin County, will enable the park to create 14 lots on what is now vacant land just east of the existing park.”It’s a $2.8 million loan,” Curtis said of the agreement now being negotiated, explaining that the money will be used to provide new water and sewer lines, as well as new utilities (gas, electric and phone), all of which is to be buried underground.The money also will be used to build a 200,000 gallon water storage tank, which will sit on land owned by Elam Construction Inc. on an elevated mesa just to the north of the park.”They have given us the verbal approval for the loan,” Curtis continued, referring to Community Banks. He added that the loan is to be paid back using either proceeds from lots sales or the rental income from those lots that are not sold.Current space rental at the park is $655 per month, a significant jump from the $380 a month residents were paying. The space rental fee recently was raised to cover bank fees, development costs and other incidental expenses.The cost of an average-sized lot, about 3,500 square feet, will be roughly $81,500, up slightly from an earlier estimate of $80,000 per lot.Once the construction loan is in place and work is under way, the park’s management will begin selling individual lots to residents who live on them or writing rental agreements for those who choose not to buy.Curtis said 37 of the 51 “households” have signed “reservation contracts” to purchase their lots, and he expressed hope that most of the remaining 14 lots also will be sold.Woody Creek is the last trailer park in Pitkin County to shift from ownership by a landlord who charges rents for the lots, to ownership by those who occupy the lots and live in the trailers.Curtis, who has lived in the mobile home park since 1976, has seen four different owners. He said he has been working on getting homeowners the ability to buy their lots since 1982, when then-owner Woody Creek Associates first offered the park for sale.The Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority purchased the park in 1998 and has spent the past seven years working on a deal to transfer the property to residents.The resale value of the units and lots has been capped at Category 6 – which gives them a deed-restricted value of $441,000. Seven homes in the park are slated for relocation within the new subdivision.Curtis said there will be an announcement when the construction loan is finalized and the sale of the lots is set to begin.John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com