Aspen City Council blesses affordable-housing project
Concerns expressed by nearby neighbors of a proposed affordable-housing complex near Smuggler Mountain couldn’t dissuade Aspen City Council from approving the project after a public hearing Monday.
The council voted 4-0 — Councilwoman Ann Mullins missed the meeting due to personal reasons — in favor of an 11-unit project at the foot of Smuggler Mountain.
The 517 Park Circle project became the first of three public-private partnerships for affordable housing that won approval from City Council. Another proposal, located at 488 Castle Creek Road, goes to the Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission at 4:30 p.m. today in the Sisters Cities Meeting Room at City Hall. The third project is located at 802 W. Main St. and goes to planning and zoning later this year.
The city is partnering with Aspen Housing Partners LLC on three worker-housing projects, a combination of 50 units that would be rented out to eligible employees who work within city limits.
The Park Circle proposal was generally accepted by City Council; however, elected officials declined to waive its impact fees as previously requested, and also implored the Aspen Housing Partners team to find more parking for the tenants.
The project calls for 11 parking spaces, which complies with city code. That equates to one space per unit, but the complex could potentially have more tenants than parking spots because it calls for four two-bedroom units along with seven one-bedroom units. No on-street parking is available near the project.
The developers could offset the deficit by possibly using available parking spaces at the Benedict Commons housing complex on East Hyman Avenue or even a hotel.
“We’re trying to relive the parking pressure from the location,” Mayor Steve Skadron said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s at Benedict Commons or the St. Regis.”
Torre, president of the Smuggler Racquet Club, said the project’s density, its 5-foot setbacks in some areas, and the creation of traffic would be out of step with the area’s character.
“We do think it should be compatible with the neighborhood,” he said.
The team of developers countered that the Park Circle project averages out to 33.1 units per acre, compared to 32.4 units per acre at 414 Park Circle, 35.3 at 425 Park Circle, and 81.3 for the recently approved affordable-housing project at 404 Park Circle.
Another resident offered concerns that the project “has no solar, no wind, no sustainable wind qualities” and isn’t suitable for the neighborhood.
The city owns all of the land eyed for the development by Aspen Housing Partners. The city would lease the property to Aspen Housing Partners, which would be responsible for all three projects’ design, construction and operations.
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The steep Jail Trail that leads into downtown Aspen is getting a better grade to address safety concerns and make it easier for people to use.