Basalt development projects could add 60 affordable residences | AspenTimes.com

Basalt development projects could add 60 affordable residences

Two development projects that could combine to provide 60 affordable-housing residences are headed to review by the Basalt Town Council this fall.

Habitat for Humanity and the Roaring Fork School District are teaming to propose 27 affordable-housing units by Basalt High School. The Town Council gave an informal nod on a critical aspect of the land-use approvals Tuesday night. The five members of the board who were present said they favor expanding the town's urban growth boundary to accommodate the project.

The second project entering the council's den is Stott's Mill, which earned approval for 110 units in 2009 but stalled in the Great Recession. An expanded project is back with tweaks, including 31 deed-restricted affordable housing units and two additional-units dedicated to the school district. The Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval with conditions.

Stott's Mill project

A company called MSP I LLC wants to build 60 single-family homes and 96 multi-family dwellings on an 18-acre site north of Basalt High School, east of South Side Drive.

The plan includes two parks, an indoor tennis center and 4,000 square feet for a day care center, which would be leased to an outside operator.

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Briston Peterson, a partner and spokesman for the ownership group, told the council he hopes to secure approvals by the end of the year and break ground in the spring.

"If I was sitting here with approvals today, I'd be putting in infrastructure tomorrow," he said.

Peterson said even the units that aren't deed-restricted with price caps will be affordable because of the density and small size. He and his partners are Roaring Fork Valley businessmen and know the "dire need" for affordable housing. Peterson said he is a partner in a construction firm and knows from personal experience how hard it is to hold onto employees because of a lack of housing.

Councilman Gary Tennenbaum said he wants to see an economic analysis performed on the project. That became a standard practice for the town during former Town Manager Mike Scanlon's reign. Tennenbaum said the study would help evaluate how much MSP I can contribute to South Side Drive improvements.

Peterson said his firm could probably make more profit developing one luxury home on Red Mountain than the entire Basalt project, but they're committed to helping ease the affordable-housing shortage.

"I could share with you we're not knocking it out of the park" on profits with the Basalt project, Peterson said.

Councilman Mark Kittle expressed support for the project. "Well, I'm with you 100 percent," he said.

Councilwoman Jennifer Riffle said she supports reducing the overall number of units in the project to an amount that can be handled by the roads.

Habitat project

The Habitat project will be divided about equally among teachers and other members of the valley workforce, according to Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork president Scott Gilbert. They will be sale units, with mortgage, interest, insurance and taxes coming to 28 to 30 percent of gross monthly income of buyers, which is always Habitat's goal.

The school district owns the 4.5 acres of land. Habitat would raise the funds for construction as well as rely on volunteer labor and time commitments from the buyers. Gilbert said Pitkin County is considering helping with the project, potentially by contributing funds for infrastructure.

The site is on a bench on the south side of the high school. Habitat initially looked at 20 duplexes on the site, but a portion isn't developable.

The school district is focusing on building rental housing after voters approved a bond issuance for affordable housing in November. This project provides an option for teachers to buy their units.

Elsewhere in Basalt, the developer of Willits Town Center is completing an affordable housing project that includes 50 apartments and 27 condominiums. The apartments will be rented according to town of Basalt guidelines. The school district is purchasing the bulk of the condos, with the town government and Basalt Fire Department also investing in some.

scondon@aspentimes.com

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