Aspen School District eyes more ways to house teachers, staff

The Aspen School District plans to add more staff housing to West Ranch near Woody Creek, which currently has five duplexes occupied by faculty members and their families.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times |

The Aspen School District is poised to add another unit to its employee-housing stable and is eying a larger development near Woody Creek.

At a meeting Monday, members of the Board of Education authorized the purchase of a Snowmass Village condominium unit for no more than $844,500. The condo, which has an appraised value of $850,000, has 1,381 square feet of heated area and three bedrooms and three baths, according to the Pitkin County Assessor’s Office.

“We are obviously adding to our inventory,” Superintendent Dr. John Maloy told the board.

The board’s approval comes when it is looking for more ways to house teachers and staff in an area known for its exorbitant living costs. The district currently owns 43 units, 80 to 85 percent which are leased to its teachers, and the rest to other employees, according to Maloy.

“It’s important to attract and retain quality staff, and I think the acquisition of this property is one more piece of doing that Jenga game of employee housing,” board member Sandra Peirce said.

More faculty housing is being contemplated for the Aspen School District’s parcel on the West Ranch subdivision near Woody Creek. The district has five duplexes there, accounting for 10 units that house teachers. The district acquired the property in 1998.

The board is studying the potential for building more staff housing at West Ranch. The district has identified a parcel located east of the current housing development for more housing.

The development options presented to the Board of Education at this week’s meeting included:

• Four single-family homes at roughly 2,000 square feet each

• A mixed development with three 2,500-square-foot duplexes and two single-family homes at 2,000 square feet

• Five duplexes at 2,500 square feet each

Each scenario also would include carports and storage areas.

Some board members, however, were not satisfied with the options presented by Aspen architect Gilbert Sanchez because of the limited development potential on the 0.65-acre building envelope that sits on nearly 5 acres of the district-owned lot. They asked the superintendent to start discussions with Pitkin County, which has land-use jurisdiction over the property, about expanding the envelope.

Sanchez, who is working with Aspen planner Alan Richman on the conceptual development, said after the meeting that he had originally envisioned the housing to be ready for school staff by the fall of 2019. But if the district pursues the expansion of the building envelope, the date will likely be pushed back, he said.