Board applauds infill housing
Housing board members unanimously endorsed a proposal Wednesday to build “infill” affordable housing on Mill Street.
Landowner Stoney Davis has yet to formally apply to build six affordable housing units on a lot currently being used for parking behind the Community Bank. His plan would also include underground parking for residents of the housing project.
Davis made an informal presentation to the housing board to test the waters, because “right now there’s no zoning” that will accommodate the project, he explained.
But if there was any concern over its reception, it was quickly dispelled.
“I think it’s a great opportunity,” said chairwoman Jackie Kasabach, expressing the sentiment of the entire board.
Since Davis’ work session with the Aspen City Council, where he received similar support, specifics of the project have taken shape.
Davis is proposing the units be sold on the free market, but be deed-restricted so that only residents living and working in Pitkin County qualify to live in them. If they are rented out, it would be at Category 3 prices.
Under that scenario, the units would probably be purchased by businesses, which would subsidize them in order to rent them to employees at the Category 3 level.
Board member Patrick Sagal voiced concern that the project might be priced out of the range of owners of smaller businesses. But the majority of the board sided with member Mick Ireland, who said, “even if it’s true, it’s housing employees and taking them out of the stream who need it. So to that extent, who cares?”
“Our job is not to look out for smaller businesses as much as to provide housing,” Kasabach agreed.
Davis and city staff members are currently working together to overcome the zoning obstacles.
Even though a formal application for the project has yet to be filed, Davis said he already has interested buyers in line, including Community Bank; John Hamwi, owner of Little Annie’s Eating House; and two or three other employers.
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