Evicted tenants have temporary shelter at Marolt | AspenTimes.com

Evicted tenants have temporary shelter at Marolt

Jennifer Davoren

Tenants evicted from the Shadowood apartments earlier this week have a new place to call home – for the next month, anyway.

The Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority announced Thursday that displaced residents can bunk at Marolt Ranch while looking for new lodging.

“We have been given permission to move them into Marolt for 30 days,” said Cindy Christensen, the authority’s operations manager.

Housing officials, along with city and county managers, have been working on a plan for Shadowood residents since their official eviction on Tuesday. Christensen also credited the house-hunting efforts of Aspen Fire Marshal Ed Van Walraven, whose life-safety report caused the shuttering of Shadowood.

The main structure of the three-building Shadowood apartments complex was declared a fire hazard late last month after an evaluation by Van Walraven and a handful of county officials. Van Walraven said he discovered multiple violations of local fire codes during his tour of the Shadowood complex, including exposed wiring, limited emergency exits and faulty smoke detectors.

The building, which Pitkin County Commissioners had considered for a new affordable housing project, was declared unsuitable for occupancy on March 21. However, Shadowood property managers – representing complex owner and part-time Aspen resident Stewart Resnick – delayed informing their tenants about the eviction notice while consulting their attorneys.

Shadowood residents say they weren’t told of the eviction until Tuesday, April 1. At that time, they were told to vacate the property by midnight Friday under orders of the fire marshal.

The evicted tenants were given some leniency due to Shadowood’s short notice, and the eviction deadline was extended to midnight Sunday. They will also be allowed to leave their belongings behind during the apartment hunt, as long as the residents themselves “are out of harm’s way,” Van Walraven said.

It’s still difficult to secure adequate lodging in five days, housing officials note. A short-term stay at Marolt will help ease the pressure.

“Most people, [housing officials] feel like they can find a place before May or May 1,” Christensen said. “This at least puts a roof over their head, gives them a place to sleep and running water, so they don’t have to worry so much.”

A top concern for the evicted tenants – that Shadowood was one of Aspen’s few refuges for dog owners – was also taken into account with the Marolt plan, Christensen said.

“The county manager came down and talked to us and, because of the situation … and due to life-safety issues, they’ve waved the pet policy for 30 days,” she said.

The 30-day rule also helps Marolt managers to prepare for its next set of tenants: pupils attending the summer session of the Aspen Music Festival and School.

“Obviously, it has to be temporary, because the first of June is when the music association takes over,” Christensen said.

Shadowooders moving to Marolt won’t receive too much of a break on their rent rates, Christensen said, “but it’s still probably cheaper than what they were paying there.” Rent will be prorated for the group, she said, allowing them to pay only for the time they take advantage of the housing.

However, the new residents will have to pay to have the carpets cleaned upon leaving Marolt, Christensen said.

Though the Marolt deal will be extended to everyone ousted by the Shadowood eviction, housing officials still aren’t sure of the exact number affected. While four people resided at Shadowood under yearlong leases, an additional handful were signed to month-to-month contracts.

“We’ve probably talked to about five or six people. I’m sure there’s a few more people out there, but we’re just not sure,” Christensen said.

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