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Housing top topic at City Council meeting

John Colson

Affordable-housing issues will dominate the agenda at the Aspen City Council meeting tonight.

On the agenda are the proposed annexation of a controversial affordable housing site and a request for a multimillion-dollar construction loan for a senior housing project.

The council will hold a public hearing regarding the proposed annexation of the Burlingame Ranch property, which is the site of the Burlingame Village affordable housing project. The city bought the roughly 225-acre property for $2.6 million in 1996.

This is the second go-round for the Burlingame annexation. The first petition was withdrawn, at the request of the council, to allow the annexation boundaries to be redrawn to exclude the portion of the ranch lands on the west side of the ridge visible from Highway 82.

According to a memo from city attorney John Worcester, the “current thought” on that 37-acre parcel is that it could be sold as a free-market developable lot, “with most of it deed restricted to a conservation area. Additional deed restrictions could be placed upon the parcel to limit the size” of the home that could be built there, Worcester noted.

The Burlingame Ranch is the site of two government-initiated housing projects.

Burlingame Village is proposed to contain 225 housing units on a small parcel of land jointly owned by the city, the Aspen Valley Land Trust and the Zoline ranching family. The proposal has run into problems related to its size and location, and a road proposed around the backside of Deer Hill to connect with the Aspen Airport Business Center.

The Burlingame seasonal housing project, a 69-unit, 203-bed complex currently proposed as a partnership between the Music Associates of Aspen and the Aspen Skiing Co., will also be the subject of a pubic hearing before the City Council tonight.

In addition to the Burlingame-related items, the council is being asked to give formal approval to a $3.4 million construction loan from the city’s housing fund to the housing office. The loan was previously approved, conceptually, in November 1998.

Housing director Dave Tolen said the housing office is borrowing the money from the city, instead of from a traditional lending institution, so that the interest payments will accrue (at a rate of 6 percent) to the city. Another $2.5 million is being financed through the sale of tax credits to private investors, Tolen said. The total development costs of the project are estimated to be approximately $5.8 million, part of which will be paid by a $350,000 grant from the state of Colorado.

Tolen said the project has experienced some increases in cost projections, as have other government-sponsored projects, because the overall cost of construction in the area is skyrocketing. But, he said, some of those cost hikes have been balanced by expectations that the tax credits will sell at a better price than expected.

The property was also appraised at a higher value than anticipated. That means the housing office will be able to borrow more than expected to complete the project, he said.

The loan from the city is to be repaid once the 40-unit project is finished and occupied, either by qualified area senior citizens or other Pitkin County residents. Completion is projected for August of this year.

The council is being asked to give formal approval to a $3.4 million construction loan from the city’s housing fund to the housing office.


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