Aspen to hold meeting on expansion at Burlingame
August 2, 2011
ASPEN – A special City Council meeting is set for 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Burlingame Ranch commons building to discuss the proposed expansion of the affordable-housing neighborhood.
The meeting will include a public hearing to consider land-use approvals and to gather input on the project, also known as Burlingame II. The commons building is located at 100 Mining Stock Road, a few miles northwest of downtown Aspen.
Preliminary plans call for 167 residential units – primarily in multifamily buildings with six single-family homes each – at Burlingame II. According to a memorandum to the council from Chris Bendon, the city’s community development director, the public hearing is the first of three planned for this month. Two others are set for Aug. 22 and Aug. 29, and there might be another meeting Sept. 6, if necessary.
City officials won’t be seeking final decisions at tonight’s meeting, Bendon wrote: “Planning staff will note the scope of the planning review and [the city’s Asset Management Department] will provide a brief overview of the project. The focus of the meeting is to allow for public comments with a particular focus on current Burlingame residents.”
The land-use review process is separate from decisions related to proceeding with the project and financing options, Bendon said. At a meeting last month, council members and city planning staff pointed out that the land-use process can be completed this year and put on hold until a time when the city decides that it wants to move ahead with all or a portion of construction.
At a July 18 work session, council discussed various Burlingame II issues following a short overview from assistant city manager R. Barry Crook and affordable housing project manager Chris Everson.
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Should the city proceed, it might opt for other financing methods in lieu of a bond issue to pay for debt on a construction loan. A bond issue would require a public referendum on the question of raising taxes to finance construction debt. The city now is looking at different scenarios, including some that are debt-free, possibly using money from the portion of the real estate transfer tax (RETT) that’s dedicated to housing. Though a referendum seems unlikely given recent council discussions, the public still may express its opinions at hearings on land-use approval or votes on budget allocations.
Once the council grants land-use approval, the city’s design team will be free to complete the construction design, along with drawings and specifications. The city is trying to save money on the process, with the understanding that any drawings completed before land-use approval might have to change significantly, according to a memo Everson wrote last month.
A pre-sales effort, a method of gauging interest from potential homebuyers, has been under way since late April. As of mid-July, 167 total applicants had filed paperwork with the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority to express interest. Once more applications are filed and more potential buyers become APCHA-qualified, the city might move to the next step of drawing up reservation agreements, which will require prequalified bank loans and $500 refundable deposits.
Burlingame’s first phase, completed in December 2008, consists of 91 units. It already has been built, sold and occupied. The original plan, coincidentally, called for 167 units at Burlingame II, but council members expressed a desire to tackle the project in two or three sub-phases, which would lower the city’s immediate costs.