City moving on hundreds of workforce housing units

The Burlingame Ranch worker housing complex.
aspen times file

The city of Aspen last week put out two requests for proposals that seek firms to assist in the planning of more than 100 affordable housing units that could be available in the next several years.

The first is being called the Lumber Yard Affordable Housing Development and could hold between 75 and 150 units, depending on approvals by Aspen City Council.

In its RFP, the city is looking for assistance in community outreach and designing a conceptual master plan for the 4.74-acre property where Harbert Lumber is located by the Aspen Business Center.

The effort will mark the first time that the city has solicited community feedback on developing affordable housing on the property the government picked up in a land banking effort in 2007 for $18.5 million.

The selected firm will hold four public outreach events between July and September for people to provide comments on how the land should be developed, according to the RFP.

That could include commercial uses, along with housing, or whatever ultimately is decided that blends with the neighborhood, said Chris Everson, the city’s affordable-housing manager.

“As part of the outreach, we plan to ask what kind of support is needed in that neighborhood,” he said. “There are numerous moving parts but it’s very much up to what the city will approve.”

Bids are due May 23, with a firm chosen in early June and approved by Aspen City Council later that month.

The process is expected to continue into 2020 and 2021 and will be more focused on advancing the conceptual designs to a level that could be ready for a land-use development application by the end of 2021, according to the RFP.

The entitlements process is expected to be completed in 2022 with the building permit application process to follow in 2023, and construction beginning in 2024 or 2025.

The city has earmarked $60 million for the lumber yard project coming out of its 150 fund, which relies on revenue from the Real Estate Transfer Tax and developer fees.

Everson said those numbers are only placeholders and as the project becomes more detailed, the price tag will change.

And while that project is in its infancy, the third and final phase of the city-owned development known as Burlingame Ranch is closer to breaking ground.

The city’s RFP is seeking a firm to conduct outreach, design, engineering and construction, with delivery of units between 2020 and 2022.

The project includes 79 affordable condominiums in eight buildings, along with all necessary infrastructure.

Development approvals for this phase were executed by City Council in 2011 but the project will still see public review.

The condominium units are a mix of flats and multi-level townhomes with 25 one-bedroom units, 17 two-bedroom units and 37 three-bedroom units.

The entire project is budgeted to cost around $44 million, according to the 150 fund long-range plan.

The 150 fund has enough money in it to cover the costs of the lumber yard and Burlingame projects, along with another land acquisition, Everson said.

The fund’s ending balance is projected this year to be $26 million. By 2028, it is estimated to be $37 million.

Bids for Burlingame phase 3 also are due May 23, with a firm chosen in early June and approved by Aspen City Council later that month.

“We are hoping to get some good proposals,” Everson said.

Since the mid-2000s, the city has developed 177 units at Burlingame Ranch, which is occupied mostly by families. The property is situated across from Buttermilk Mountain and tucked behind Deer Hill.