Aspen Skiing Co. adding to its tiny house nation in Basalt campground

Scott Condon | The Aspen Times
Aspen Skiing Co. bought six trailer coaches for $100,000 each last year for an experimental affordable housing project on property it owns in the Basalt-area. The experiment worked and it is buying 34 more.
Aspen Skiing Co./courtesy photo |

Aspen’s largest employer is taking a giant step into tiny house nation.

Aspen Skiing Co. is ordering 34 manufactured homes that it aims to add to the Aspen Basalt Campground for seasonal housing by next winter. It experimented with six “trailer coaches” of about 500 square feet each last winter.

“They worked out well,” Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle said Friday. “We will be adding more for seasonal workers.”

The new units will be larger, capable of housing as many as three people rather than the two occupants accommodated by each of the first six units. The new units also will have 1.5 bathrooms rather than just one, Hanle said.

In theory, the new units will be able to house an additional 102 seasonal workers.

The addition of the tiny homes will come at a price for some long-term campers at the park. Hanle said tenants of 17 spaces that are occupied year-round were given notice Friday that they must vacate by Sept. 1.

“Having to leave the campground will likely disrupt your life in a significant way. We sincerely regret this,” said a Skico letter to the tenants who must vacate. “Unfortunately, Aspen Skiing Co.’s housing needs, combined with the valley-wide employee-housing crisis, demand this course of action.”

Long-term tenants were initially given an eviction notice in September 2015, telling them they must move by the following May 1. The plan at that time was to convert the campground into a short-term RV park.

Skico reversed itself within a few days of giving notice. It said the idea wasn’t properly vetted. The residents were given a reprieve with the understanding that redevelopment would happen “sometime in the future.”

The long-term tenants pay $750 per month for a space with hookups for sewer, water and electricity.

Skico is offering financial assistance to the tenants who must vacate. If they leave by June 30, they will receive $3,000. If they leave by July 31, they will receive $2,000 and if they leave by Aug. 31, they will receive $1,000.

“We are incentivizing earlier departure because the sooner a space is vacant the sooner we can do site-specific work to prepare for the arrival of more trailer coaches,” Skico’s letter said.

The company said it also would provide ideas on where the tenants might be able to relocate.

Skico bought the 6.6-acre property, which then operated as a KOA Campground, in 2008 with an eye on using it to help solve its employee-housing situation.

Once the RVs are moved, Skico will regrade the sites and prepare for the tiny homes. They will be moved in sometime in the fall, prior to ski season.

In addition to the 40 tiny homes that will be available for Skico employees next winter, the company will rent out 20 spaces to Aspen Skiing Co. employees with RVs next winter. Those spaces will be available for short-term rental during summers.

Hanle said Skico anticipates company employees will rent all 20 spaces during winters.

The 34 new tiny houses will be about the same price as the original six, according to Hanle. They were in the ballpark of $100,000 each. Skico is buying the units from Sprout Tiny Homes of La Junta.

Skico has in excess of 600 beds for employees but estimated the shortage going into this winter at 600 beds.