City in, Skico out as partner in Burlingame
After its first formal look at the latest Burlingame seasonalhousing budget proposal, the Aspen City Council signed on as afull partner Tuesday.The city replaces the Aspen Skiing Co. as the Music Associatesof Aspen’s partner in the development of the 208-bed seasonalhousing project. The MAA will use the beds each summer and thecity will control them the rest of the year.At a work session yesterday, council members commended plans forthe $9.8 million project as “definitely on the right track.”With the city as the MAA’s partner, the project will be open toa wider range of seasonal employees during the winter, ratherthan accommodating mostly the Skico work force. Council memberssaid they prefer it that way. “I never liked the concept of Skico controlling most of the winterbeds,” said Councilwoman Rachel Richards. “All businesses, smalland large, have seasonal needs and I’m happy that the project’sbeen steered in this direction.”Skico officials have said they don’t mind backing away as a partnerin the project. The company’s seasonal workers will presumablyhave as much chance as other employees at securing living spacein the project.To pay for Burlingame, the MAA will assume one-third of the projectcost and the city will pick up the remaining two-thirds of thetab. Financing for the entire project is proposed through tax-exemptbonds that would be managed by a nonprofit corporation.The bonds will either be paid back in 30 or 48 years. The corporationin charge of the project and the bond repayment will be governedby a board of directors that will be chosen by the city. After the bonds are paid back in full, the city will assume ownershipof the project “free and clear,” said attorney Dave Myler, representingthe MAA. Given this arrangement, the MAA is pushing for the 48-yearpayback plan in order to secure housing for its needs for thelongest term possible.”Before tonight I never heard of ownership reverting back to city,so I’d say 48 years sounds better than never – especially consideringthat the MAA’s putting up one-third of the cost for one-fourthof the bed time,” said Mayor John Bennett.The MAA will house its Aspen Music Festival and School studentsin Burlingame from June through August each year. All the unitswill be two-bedroom apartments and monthly rent will be $400 perbedroom year-round. It’s estimated that the city will have to subsidize the projectby about $1.2 million after factoring in the rent revenue. That’sa subsidy of about $9,270 per bedroom. Richards suggested that perhaps some units could be sold outrightto reduce the city’s subsidy to zero. But a private company couldnot utilize tax-exempt bonds and the project’s bond repaymentcould not take into account the revenue stream from the sale ofunits.Instead, master leasing units to nonprofit organizations in orderto recover some of the subsidy is a possible alternative, thecouncil was told.According to project consultant Jim Curtis, an application forfinal approval of Burlingame should be ready in three weeks. Groundcould be broken for construction as soon as July 1, he said.The city-owned Burlingame Ranch parcel is located between theMaroon Creek Club and the Aspen Airport Business Center. In additionto seasonal housing, the city is continuing to debate the meritsof a separate affordable housing development elsewhere on theproperty.
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