Burlingame lot owners due for subsidy | AspenTimes.com

Burlingame lot owners due for subsidy

John ColsonThe Aspen TimesAspen CO, Colorado
Paul Conrad The Aspen Times

ASPEN The buyers of vacant lots at the troubled Burlingame Ranch project have long been in need of a little help, and the Aspen City Council this week agreed to give it to them earlier than originally planned. On Monday the City Council voted essentially to fast-track a subsidy to six of the buyers of the single-family lots, which were approved last year but have yet to be actually delivered to the lot owners.The seventh lot buyer, according to a memo from Assistant City Manager Bentley Henderson, has decided to have the city act as their developer, and the subsidy for that unit will be built into the cost of construction and the ultimate sale of the unit.The actual release of the subsidy checks, which originally was approved in late 2007, was to have coincided with issuance of a certificate of occupancy. But the council agreed on Monday to do it sooner after hearing from at least one of the lot owners that his home is nearly 80 percent complete and he needs the money in order to finish.The exact timing for releasing the subsidy payments has yet to be worked out, but Henderson said he is working with the lot buyers to see that those who need the money most urgently get it as soon as possible.The lots all are either resident occupied (RO) or Category 6. The subsidy for the RO lots is expected to be $189,500. For the Category 6 lots the subsidy is to be $344,000, according to Hendersons memo. The difference in subsidy levels is a consequence of the intricacies in calculating prices, rebates and other factors in the housing program.For example, the RO lots were priced at $150,000, and the Category 6 lots were priced at $119,000. In both cases, the subsidy/rebate is equal to the purchase price with interest added.The Burlingame project, which was planned to include 236 homes, currently contains 84 multi-family homes that all have been built by the city, and seven lots for homes to be constructed by the lot owners.Of the seven lots, only one has a house on it today, the home of builder Richard Lowe and Snowmass Sun general manager Madeleine Osberger (Osberger is employed by the same corporation that owns The Aspen Times). The other owners reportedly have run into difficulty getting contractors and arranging for loans, among other problems.Lowe and Osberger, who currently are renting while they build their new house, said they will have spent more than $900,000 to build their home by the time it is done. And, said Lowe, the amount they have paid out so far does not include what he termed my sweat-equity in the house, referring to work he has done himself to save money.Construction costs, and the related cap on resale prices, are a large part of the problem being faced by Burlingame lot owners, Henderson told the council. He told the council that lot buyers, at the time they move in, will have paid more to build their houses than their resale value. The council generally agreed that something should be done about the resale cap, but Henderson said that the details are still in progress. He said he has contacted the lot owners to get all the necessary information for the process of releasing the subsidy checks, and that more information, such as a complete record of receipts for construction costs, will be needed for the calculation of resale caps.At the same time, he said, city staffers are working on such things as the annual appreciation amounts, which were not set when the project went through its land-use approvals.jcolson@aspentimes.com