City of Aspen looks to add up 48 new employee housing units
The city of Aspen’s new municipal office building will generate 86 employees, of which 60 percent will be mitigated for using the government’s in-house affordable-housing credits.
The city currently has more than 50 rental and ownership units scattered around town that house government employees.
Additionally, the city has built and subsidized hundreds of deed-restricted units that are now in the inventory of the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority.
“We are in the business of affordable housing,” said Jeff Pendarvis, the city’s capital asset director.
The estimated 51.6 full-time equivalents that the land-use code calculates for the city’s new development will be put against credits from existing housing that the city has in its inventory and has not been assigned to other projects.
There are 127.5 full-time equivalents that have been housed by city projects and just over 96 of them have been used as mitigation for municipal developments.
“The idea is we build a lot of housing and we are going to continue to build housing,” said Scott Miller, the city’s public works director.
The city now has a remaining balance of just over 31 full-time equivalents, according to the ordinance that council passed in 2017 that approved the 41,000-square-foot building between Rio Grande Place and Galena Plaza.
Voters affirmed the project last fall, after almost two years of legal wrangling with three citizens who wanted a public vote on council’s decision.
The city pays for its internal housing program through what’s known as the 505 fund, which is funded by all the departments in the city.
Each department allocates a certain percentage of their budget into the 505 fund each year. It grows about $2 million annually, according to Pendarvis. The fund balance is between $3 and $4 million.
In the early 2000s, a directive from Aspen City Council was to build roughly 90 housing units for government employees, according to Pendarvis.
The city plans on growing its affordable-housing credit balance and meeting the council’s directive from almost two decades ago with a new development near the water treatment plant on Doolittle Drive above the hospital.
Preliminary plans are underway to build as many as 48 units near Thomas Reservoir on a parcel in the Water Place development where the city has about two dozen homes for employees already.
Pendarvis said money has been budgeted this year for design and public outreach for the project.
A request for proposals will be issued in April for a firm to do that work, he added.
The new development is estimated to cost $30 million and will be paid for through the 505 fund.
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