City: No million-dollar homes at Burlingame |

City: No million-dollar homes at Burlingame

Janet Urquhart

Million-dollar home sales are not what the Aspen City Council wants to see at Burlingame Ranch, the development of affordable housing that could begin construction next year.The phenomenon at North 40, where two houses that are deed-restricted as “affordable” employee housing have sold for more than $1 million already, is not something the council wants to see repeated at Burlingame, members have stressed repeatedly.Mayor Helen Klanderud recently called the North 40 sales “ridiculous” and has called for price caps on the most expensive homes to be constructed at Burlingame.”I do not want the first turnaround in this project to be in excess of a million dollars,” she told her council colleagues during a Burlingame discussion last month. “That is so obscene.”At North 40, lots in the Resident Occupied, or RO, category were sold to qualified working residents who then built their own homes. What they spent on the home set the base price from which appreciation is calculated and there was no cap on what they could spend. Some homeowners spent a lot, pushing sale prices over the $1 million mark when the homes went on the market for the first time.The Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority board has also agreed there need to be limits on RO homes at Burlingame and is expected to make a recommendation on what the cap should be.”After the whole North 40 thing, we agreed there needs to be some kind of price cap,” said Marcia Goshorn, vice chairwoman of the housing board.The plan for Burlingame calls for 236 homes spread over three phases, including 39 lots. Of the lots, 20 are currently slated to be sold in the RO category, which currently has a maximum price of $150,000 per lot. The others are to be a mix of lots in Categories 5-7, with prices ranging from $85,400 to $122,600, according to the housing authority guidelines.Phase one of Burlingame is to include 86 units priced in Categories 1-7, plus 11 lots, including six RO lots. Category 1 units are the least expensive. Councilwoman Rachel Richards said she wouldn’t mind eliminating the RO lots altogether at Burlingame by “buying them down” to Categories 5-7 – in other words, increasing the government subsidy for the project so the lots can be sold at lower prices than the RO level. Price caps for homes in Categories 5-7 already exist, unlike RO.”I think there’s a lot of aspects to [RO] that need to be discussed in addition to the caps,” Richards said.For example, she said, should the lots be reserved for families? When deed-restricted residences are sold, the housing office makes maximum occupancy a priority – selling a three-bedroom unit to a household of at least three persons, for example.”Would a single person be allowed to buy an RO lot just because they can afford it?” Richards mused.Councilman Tim Semrau, a builder by trade, guessed $750,000 would be a reasonable cap on the price of RO homes at Burlingame. If lot buyers want to spend more than that on their dwelling, it would be with the understanding that they can only recoup the $750,000 (or whatever the price cap is), plus appreciation.Burlingame Ranch is located on the outskirts of town, between the Maroon Creek Club and Aspen Business Center.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is