City Hall helps Aspen’s Centennial
ASPEN – Aspen City Hall is making moves to help Centennial homeowners help themselves with an estimated $3 million repair bill on the aging condominiums.
Three members of the Aspen City Council on Tuesday gave the go-ahead to assist Centennial Condominium homeowners association president Ed Cross in establishing a special taxing district that would acquire a loan through a local bank at a low interest rate.
“I feel it’s constructively funding our own problems,” he said.
City officials will begin working with Cross on getting an analysis of the physical repairs needed on the buildings, as well as a legal analysis on how to set up the district.
It will likely go on the November ballot and will be voted on only by the owners of the 92 units at Centennial. The City Council must authorize the ballot measure.
The complex, which was built in 1984, has “massive” water damage to the buildings’ structural core because of faulty design, Cross said.
Wells Fargo representatives in April met with Centennial residents, as well as officials from the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority, to hash out details on the special taxing district scenario. Bank officials said a special taxing district is possible.
There also may be opportunities to apply for federal stimulus funds to retrofit the buildings with green technology with the help of the city of Aspen. That might include solar windows and geo-thermal techniques.
The loan would likely span 30 to 35 years, and cost the average unit about $2,600 annually. That’s about $50 a month for a two-bedroom unit.
The taxing district is more plausible than homeowners trying to obtain a loan outright from the bank, as credit opportunities have dried up.
“This is a creative solution that I like,” said City Councilman Derek Johnson.
Cross noted that without a special taxing district, the units could end up being so expensive as a result of the repairs that no one can afford them. As a result, the city could end up with empty units in disrepair. The city partly governs the property as part of the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority inventory.
The homeowners association at Centennial has about $280,000 in its capital reserve fund, but that won’t even come close to covering all the repairs needed at the worker housing complex near the base of Smuggler Mountain.
To increase the fund from $60,000 to $90,000 annually, monthly dues for the 92 condo owners have been raised an average of $100 a month.
If homeowners were to pay out of pocket for the necessary repairs, their dues would be more than their mortgages.
The benefit of a district is that the loan would be attached to the property, not the homeowner. Also, the loan would be at a significantly lower rate, the payments might be tax deductible, and the local government wouldn’t have to step in for financial assistance.
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