Council weighs direction of Burlingame II | AspenTimes.com

Council weighs direction of Burlingame II

Karl Herchenroeder
The Aspen Times

Two potential buyers have approached the city of Aspen about a duplex building included in Phase II of Burlingame Ranch. But how those interested parties will proceed with buying and developing the single-family spaces will be up to the Aspen City Council.

Council members would like to avoid what happened during Phase I of Burlingame, when a flexible design and construction process resulted in hefty subsidy requests from buyers. In some instances, buyers of the single-family lots found that they couldn't afford what they had planned to build. They also ran into the problem of construction costs outweighing resale value at the designated category price.

To address the issue, the city paid subsidies of $344,000 to category 6 lot owners and $189,500 to resident-occupied lot owners. Maximum resale prices were adjusted to $995,000 for resident-occupied and $640,000 for category 6. The city also agreed to waive water-tap and building-permit fees for each lot and paid Sanitation District fees.

"City council wasn't really happy at the time and said, 'No, we're not going to do that again,'" City Manager Steve Barwick said of Phase I. "But maybe with some guarantees, it might work."

The city will build six single-family homes in Phase 2 — four as part of two duplex sites and two as standalone single-family sites.

The first approach offered in a memorandum to the council calls for much greater city control of design and architectural direction for the lots. The city would build and sell the properties as finished products, with a resident-occupied designation and without taxpayer subsidy. Rather than allowing the homeowner to hire its own architectural and design team, the city would make that decision with input from the homeowner. The city also would oversee construction, with homeowners paying half the estimated architectural fee up front as a deposit.

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The second option would be similar to what was carried out in Phase I, though this time, there would be a greater degree of city oversight. The buyer would develop the lot, but the city would review architectural detail to ensure it maintains existing architectural designs as much as possible. All project invoices would be reviewed by the city, as well, and all finish decisions would need to be city-approved. Among other requirements is a ceiling on the initial sales price so that it cannot exceed the cost the city would have put on the unit had the city built the home and sold it to the owners.

The memo states that council member Adam Frisch has had conversations with the two potential buyers about returning to the approach where the city sells the lots at the guideline price, $179,000, absorbs a subsidy of about $24,000 per lot and permits the buyer to develop the lot under current planned-unit-development approvals.

Council members will review the issue at today's regular meeting.

herk@aspentimes.com