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Alpina Haus complaints led to visit by officials

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Andre Salvail/The Aspen Times

A tenant’s complaint about the condition of her apartment at Alpina Haus, a 43-unit affordable-housing complex on East Durant Avenue, led local officials to look over the property Jan. 30.

The unit — one of the largest apartments at Alpina Haus and unique in that it contains a kitchen — has gaping holes in the walls near the shower area and stove. A large water stain on the ceiling is visible between the bedroom and the bathroom. A bucket had to be kept in the area beneath the water stain to catch leaking water over the past two winters, the tenant said.

Meanwhile, according to the tenant, heat to the unit had to be turned off last summer because the temperature couldn’t be controlled. There are other problems with the unit, as well, including moldy windowsills and cracked windows, the tenant pointed out.

The tenant, who recently vacated the dwelling, spoke about her problems but asked that her name be omitted from a newspaper story. She said she has lived in the unit for around five years.

But problems with the unit persisted, she alleged, adding that she received little response from the property manager after continually asking for repairs. She said she could have moved out, but the high price of renting in Aspen and the lack of availability discouraged her from leaving a unit that, at less than $800 per month, was one of the cheapest in town.

Mike Kosdrosky, executive director of the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority, visited the property 10 days ago with an inspector from the city’s Building Department. Kosdrosky said that the housing authority doesn’t have direct responsibility for the building because it is privately owned.

The housing authority’s role with Alpina Haus is to ensure that tenants are qualified, from the standpoint of income levels, to reside in the affordable-housing complex, Kosdrosky said.

The city’s Building Department concluded that certain building violations do exist, according to an email from Kosdrosky to the tenant. The unit is “unsafe to occupy until the necessary repair work can be permitted, inspected and approved,” the email said.

Kevin DeCarlo, property manager for Alpina Haus, said he will make the necessary repairs to the unit in accordance with the building inspector’s report. The Building Department’s primary concern was the shower area, where there is no drywall behind the shower stall, he said.

He said the shower area was repaired seven years ago because of leaks, well before the tenant moved in. As for the water stains visible on the ceiling, he said he’s patched the roof on an as-needed basis but that a new roof is being scheduled for the building this year.

The tenant, who vacated the property last week, hasn’t been telling the full story, DeCarlo said. She rarely mentioned the issues in the unit until recently, when she became upset over a request involving messes left outside by her boyfriend’s dog. Pets are not allowed at Alpina Haus.

“The tenant didn’t tell me what was going on in there,” DeCarlo said. “She didn’t communicate hardly at all. She’s been there for years. I remember she asked about a chip in her window. She never called; she never left notes. She never said anything about the shower.”

He said despite the fact that he’s continually busy with Alpina Haus and a second job, he’s always willing to address concerns from the tenants.

In addition to Alpina Haus, DeCarlo also manages Copper Horse, a 13-unit affordable-housing complex on Main Street.

“I’m a one-man show here,” he added, “but I try to help everybody as quickly as possible.”

andre@aspentimes.com


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