Aspen buys BMC West as housing site
November 27, 2007
ASPEN ” The Aspen City Council on Monday approved buying the BMC West lumberyard for $18.25 million; it plans to build up to 100 units on the 4.64-acre property.
But the purchase and affordable housing plan was criticized by John McBride, developer of the Aspen Airport Business Center (ABC), located next door to the BMC West property.
McBride told the council that the city’s conceptual plan for affordable housing on the site is too dense and the price tag was too high, which has implications for property and business owners at the ABC.
The affordable housing development falls under the ABC’s covenants on density and design standards.
“I don’t think it’s possible with the covenants that you can do what you want,” McBride told the council on Monday.
Preliminary discussions have focused on making the parcel a mix of long-term rental and ownership units, about 20 per acre.
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McBride said the city’s estimated subsidy of between $400,000 and $450,000 per unit is three or four times higher per square foot than the highest price paid for any developed property at the AABC.
“It’s four times higher than what we paid four years ago when we built townhomes,” McBride said, adding he estimates that construction costs will be $460 a square foot. “It’s a very expensive project and it does have other implications for the businesses there.”
Assistant City Manager Bentley Henderson said BMC West owners represented to him that there were other interested buyers who would have paid more than $20 million for the property.
“If the city didn’t step in on this transaction, it would have taken place regardless,” Henderson said.
Henderson also said it would cost about $350 per square foot to build the rental and ownership units. Because the city owns about 3 acres next to the BMC West property, more affordable housing can be built, which could reduce the construction costs even more, he added.
Carolyn Sackariason’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.