Buyers camp out for units in Aspen’s Burlingame housing
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – Getting a shot at worker housing in Aspen usually means entering a lottery and crossing one’s fingers, but some housing hopefuls took matters into their own hands Monday night, camping out front of the housing office in order to get first dibs on planned units at Burlingame Ranch.
Those who spent the night on the sidewalk were joined by a handful of early risers on Tuesday morning who lined up outside well before the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority opened at 7:30 a.m. – a half-hour early. There were about 15 people queued up, including at least one infant whose parents spent the night there, according to housing officials.
The occasion was the chance to pick a housing unit in the planned phase IIA at Burlingame Ranch. The residences are not yet built, but buyers could look at a model of the complex and floor plans of condos and townhomes in order to choose the unit they’d like to buy.
“With this particular process, there’s no lottery. It’s first come, first served,” said Tom McCabe, housing director. “You get your maximum number of choices if you arrive early. It’s a new ball game.”
The city has been proceeding cautiously as it plans the next phase of Burlingame, gauging buyer interest before pulling the trigger on construction. Infrastructure work for phase IIA has begun, though, and pre-sales are being conducted with prospective buyers. Of more than 200 applicants, 76 have qualified as buyers with the housing office and prequalified for a mortgage with a lender. Qualifying with the housing office means providing income and asset information, and documenting a local employment history.
Now, applicants are putting down a $500 refundable deposit and reserving a specific unit in the planned seven buildings that are part of Burlingame phase IIA. The project will include one-, two- and three-bedroom townhomes and condos in a range of categories tied to price and buyer incomes. A few single-family homes are also envisioned.
It was the lower-priced residences, in categories 2-4, that were expected to generate the most interest. Category 4 buyers picked out units Monday, category 3 buyers chose their units Tuesday and category 2 buyers are scheduled to do so Thursday. Housing officials were bracing for the biggest crowd at the front door Thursday, as category 2 units are the least expensive residences available at Burlingame.
While one-, two- and three-bedroom units were offered Tuesday, most of the interest was in the category 3, three-bedroom units, according to Teresa Pollock, Burlingame pre-sales program coordinator and administrative assistant with the housing office. Buyers may have feared there would be more takers than units, but of the nine three-bedroom units available, eight were reserved by the morning crowd, she said.
Thursday, prospective buyers are likely to line up for both one- and three-bedroom units. There are 15 buyers signed up for eight one-bedroom, category 2 units; six applicants for nine available two-bedroom units; and 14 buyers for five three-bedroom units at the category 2 price point.
The maximum price for a category 2 one-bedroom unit is currently $107,000, according to Housing Authority guidelines. The two-bedroom price is $133,000 and the three-bedroom, category 2 price is $161,000. The purchase price for Tuesday’s popular category 3, three-bedroom units is currently capped at $224,000, according to the guidelines.
Eighty-two units are planned in Burlingame phase IIA. Once qualified buyers have reserved units, McCabe anticipates another marketing push for any unreserved units that remain.
The City Council has not yet taken action to begin construction of the housing, but the timeline calls for that to begin in 2013, with buyers moving in early in 2014.
Burlingame Ranch, located on the outskirts of town, roughly across Highway 82 from Buttermilk, included 84 multi-family units and seven single-family lots in phase I. In all, 258 units are planned there.
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