Government exempts itself
Interested in developing in Aspen without providing employee housing? You only need to look to the leaders of our business community (the Aspen Chamber Resort Association) and our political leaders (City Council) for a good example.
ACRA members wanted to move one of their visitor centers across the alley from Rio Grande Place to Main Street. It would cost an estimated $2 million to purchase a small portion of a new building for this purpose.
Alternatively, ACRA could join with the developer and apply via a “COWOP” (COnvenience and Welfare Of Politicians) to request an exemption from affordable housing requirements for the ACRA space in the building and as a bonus, an exemption on behalf of the remaining free market space in the new building.
By not building any on-site affordable housing, the developer would save $1 million and could pass this savings along to ACRA members, thus making this appear to be a $1 million move across the alley rather than a $2 million move.
To not include affordable housing in this project contradicts the goals stated in the Aspen Area Community Plan “to avoid segregation of economic and social classes by project” and for “living within walking distance of employment areas.”
I urge our business leaders and community leaders to rethink this million-dollar slight of hand and ante up the full $2 million to buy down the appropriate amount of free market space in this new development to meet the affordable housing requirements that are required of non-city/non-COWOP developers.