Aspen School District will get another eight units to house teachers, staff

Easy, quick approval for Aspen City Council

Aspen School District
Aspen Times file photo

Whenever developer Mark Hunt brings a proposal to Aspen City Council, the approval process can take months or even years. That wasn’t the case Tuesday, however, when council members unanimously accepted his proposal to convert a free-market condo complex into staff and faculty housing for the Aspen School District.

The approval allows Hunt to remove an employee-housing deed-restriction on a 400-square-foot studio unit he owns and make it a commercial unit. The unit is on the second floor of the 6,150-square-foot building downtown, which Hunt bought for $8 million in October 2019.

The school district benefits because the approval allows it to buy or lease the eight-unit Aspen Edge Condos, located at 1235 E. Cooper Ave. All of the two-bedroom units range from 600 to 740 square feet, according to property records. Hunt bought the building for $6 million in November 2020, according to property records.

Superintendent David Baugh hailed the decision as a “huge win for the teachers and the children it the classrooms.” Four teachers already are prepared to move into the units, he said, noting the complex will be filled by the time school starts this fall.

Hunt also will receive seven affordable-housing credits, which can be sold to developers seeking to mitigate housing requirements for new projects.

Hunt needed approval from City Council since it is the final authority on land-use applications.

The council members didn’t take much time to deliberate, breezing through the discussion in under 30 minutes. Housing teachers and other local workers remains an everyday challenge, and the proposal before them was a turn-key deal, they said.

“To to see an existing structure not needing to be torn down, not going to the landfill, and continue its use as housing for our workforce forever, I think is amazing,” said Councilman Skippy Mesirow.

The school district also acquired eight units, a mix of four- and five-bedrooms on Waters Avenue, at the beginning of the year for $5 million and invested another $2.1 for renovations.

The district’s other significant acquisition of housing was near the intersection of Eighth and West Hallam streets on the lot formerly home to Poppies Bistro Cafe. The district in December paid $6.6 million to the seller, who also was Hunt.

“This is a great deal for our community,” Councilman John Doyle said of the conversion of Aspen Edge Condos and into school district housing. “And I’d like to give a shoutout to Mark Hunt and thank him for bringing this forward to us.”