City OKs upgrades to Burlingame

Janet Urquhart

More than $2 million in upgrades to the first phase of Aspen’s planned Burlingame Ranch affordable housing won an informal nod from the City Council on Tuesday.Many of the changes are improvements to the interior finishes of the 86 residences that will be constructed in phase one of the project. Eleven lots that will also be sold in phase one brings the total to 97 residences.Council members weighed nearly $6 million in additional costs to what is already roughly a $34 million project, rejecting some proposals outright, delaying a decision on others and endorsing items they felt would improve the long-term livability of the units.For example, they approved the installation of durable, environmentally friendly bamboo flooring instead of carpet.Cast-iron tubs got the nod over fiberglass fixtures in bathrooms, and tile will surround tubs and sinks instead of fiberglass.Ceramic tile won out over linoleum on the bathroom floors in the cheaper units.However, energy-efficient washers and dryers will be installed only in the pricier units, not in the lower-priced homes in categories 2-4, the council agreed. Members balked at the $63,180 price tag for the appliances in the 39 lower-priced units in phase one – roughly $1,600 per unit.”Fifteen-hundred bucks for a washer and dryer! Let’s call Sears,” Councilman Tim Semrau said.The more expensive, category 5-7 homes will do without stainable, solid-wood interior doors, though. The council wasn’t willing to spend $128,800 on that improvement. Other interior improvements, including installation of the wiring for ceiling fans in bedrooms and living rooms, also got the ax.So did exterior street lights in the subdivision, though the council agreed to spend $62,484 to install conduit in the streets so the lighting can be added later if it’s needed.The community building, originally planned as part of phase two, will be moved up to phase one at a construction cost of $564,768.However, a proposed $435,000 expenditure to reseed disturbed areas of the site and install temporary irrigation to those areas is on hold.The development team that will design and construct the housing planned to grade the entire housing site – almost 30 acres – moving dirt from some areas and filling in others. The amount of dirt that needs to be moved will dwarf what was excavated in downtown Aspen for the Hyatt Grand Aspen or Obermeyer Place projects, said Clark Atkinson, senior project manager for Shaw Construction.If the entire site isn’t graded initially, phase one residents will have to live with some significant earth moving for later phases of housing, he said.”I think it would be poor planning for subsequent phases,” Atkinson said.Nonetheless, council members weren’t anxious to see all 30 acres ripped up, especially since they don’t know if or when the latter phases will be built.”I would love a situation where phases two and three were left as undisturbed as possible,” Semrau said.The council directed the developers to look at bringing in dirt for phase one and leaving the rest of the site alone.The city hopes to see construction of homes begin next spring at Burlingame, located on the outskirts of town between the Maroon Creek Club and Aspen Business Center. Over three phases, 197 units and 39 lots are planned, for a total of 236 residences. The cost of constructing the homes will be offset by their sale to local workers.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is