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Burlingame seasonal housing

Aspen Times staff report

More than half the apartments at the Burlingame seasonal housing development have remained vacant since the departure of music students at summer’s end.

Of 92 two-bedroom apartments in the complex, 55 are vacant, said Terry Kappeli, who owns the company that is contracted to manage the development. The business plan for the development anticipates a high level of vacancy in September and October, but calls for full occupancy in November.

The complex, completed last spring, is owned by a corporation that is a partnership between the city of Aspen, which holds a 75-percent share, and the Music Associates of Aspen.

“I guess we knew we’d have a little trouble the first year,” said Ed Sadler, asset manager for the city of Aspen and president of the corporation’s board of directors. “We were only planning for partial occupancy for September and October.

“Starting in November, though, it gets to be a problem,” he continued.

Tabatha Miller, finance director for the city of Aspen, said the rent for each of the two-bedroom apartments is $880. The monthly sum represented by the vacant units is $48,400. While it is revenue that the city could be receiving, that money does not represent a fiscal loss to the city, Miller said.

Some off-season vacancy was budgeted in the payback plan for bonds that covered the construction of the complex, she said. The vacancy rate anticipated in the business plan for September and October is 50 percent, she said. Actual vacancy is about 60 percent.

Sadler said high vacancy can be expected because other, older seasonal housing complexes, Truscott and Marolt, are better known.

“We know that’s our main competition,” Sadler said. Those complexes are owned by the Aspen housing office, which directs prospective tenants to them, while Burlingame, as a separate corporation, is on its own for marketing and management.

“Their first priority is to fill their own units,” he said. Too, people coming back to town to work for the winter season will usually tend to go to the complexes they’re familiar with.

Also, Kappeli pointed out, Burlingame provides seasonal housing, which limits prospective tenants to those planning to leave after the winter. The units are only available until April 30. And there’s confusion with the larger Burlingame affordable housing village with numerous single-family houses, planned for a site closer to the Roaring Fork River.

“So many people think this is the Burlingame that’s not built yet,” Kappeli said.

Sadler agreed there’s confusion. “It’s known around town as `Baby Burlingame,'” he said. The board of directors even discussed calling the complex something other than Burlingame, he said.

“We’re just the new kid on the block,” Sadler said. “It’ll take us a while to get known.”

Burlingame’s seasonal two-bedroom units are furnished with the basics, including two beds per bedroom. The complex also has eight year-round, one-bedroom apartments.


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