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Burlingame lots challenge buyers

Janet Urquhart
The first phase of Burlingame, now under construction, includes 13 lots and 84 residences in multifamily buildings. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)
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Aspen’s first attempt at selling lots to local workers who will then arrange to build their own homes is apparently off to a rocky start.Several lot buyers at Burlingame Ranch are expected to meet with the City Council on Tuesday to discuss their concerns with the process thus far. They declined to elaborate last week.Meanwhile, Assistant City Manager Ed Sadler has suggested the council reconsider its plan to sell another round of lots at Burlingame, or to make some changes if it does. Seven lots sold early this year, and another six were to be sold through a lottery in April, but the second offering has been delayed pending Tuesday’s discussion.About 175 people applied for the first batch of seven lots, but the city went through 17 bidders to arrive at seven who went through with the purchase, according to Sadler, who oversees city projects.Ten prospective buyers backed out mostly because of costs and inexperience, he said in a memo to the council. They “had little or no idea what was going to be involved in building a home at Burlingame.”Given pre-construction costs and the actual price tag of building a home, Sadler said he believes lot buyers may have trouble constructing a house that does not exceed the price caps the city has placed on the houses at Burlingame.”As the lot purchasers get further into the process, the owners will realize the cost constraints they face and will end up being disgruntled and will possibly be appearing before council asking for relief in one form or another,” Sadler said in the memo. “I would truly hate for the lot issue to give an otherwise great project a black eye and become the focus of the project rather than the exception.”

Lot buyers who build the minimum square footage allowed will have an estimated $174 to $212 per square foot to spend on their homes. The city is spending anywhere from 11 to 35 percent more than that constructing the multiunit buildings at Burlingame, according to Sadler.However, according to his memo, lot owners using “canned plans” and modular construction can probably meet the price guidelines the city set. The caps, including the purchase price of the lot, range from $428,100 to $640,000, depending on the lot price.If the city wants to go forward with additional lot sales at Burlingame, Sadler suggested some options: reduce lot prices to give buyers more money to actually build, construct the single-family homes along with the rest of the project and then sell them, or continue to sell lots, but require buyers to choose from a handful of house plans and let the project developer build them.The first phase of Burlingame, now under construction, includes 13 lots and 84 residences in multifamily buildings. In all 236 residences, including 39 lots, are planned.Lot buyers can actually spend whatever they want on the construction of their homes, if they have the resources, but the caps the city set form the base price from which appreciation is calculated. Worker housing appreciates at a capped rate.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com


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