Aspen’s east end will see new housing development
The Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority has approved a development in an east end neighborhood that will add five affordable units to the workforce rental pool.
Bill Boehringer, managing partner of Aspen Hills Investors, is proposing to redevelop a 50-year-old building in the 300 block of Midland Avenue into a blend of affordable housing and free-market units.
The building, which was built in 1965 and condominimized in 1969, currently has eight free-market apartments. And although they are free-market, they have been home to longtime locals for decades either through owner-occupied or rental units.
Boehringer wants to redevelop the property into 14 apartments — eight of which would be affordable and six free-market that are planned to be built to the north and west of the existing building.
The housing board signed off last week on the proposal, with the condition that a development agreement be signed by Boehringer and APCHA, which outlines details of the project. The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission has final approval.
Affordable housing is required to mitigate for the free-market development, however, Boehringer is opting out of maximizing his profit margin to accommodate APCHA’s needs.
Three current residents, who Boehringer referred to as “legacy tenants,” have reached an agreement to purchase their new units, which would be deed restricted as resident-occupied.
Resident-occupied is the highest income category, and the units are the most expensive in APCHA’s inventory.
Boehringer has a right under city code to convert all eight units to resident-occupied but because APCHA’s preference is to have other category rentals due to their high demand in the community, the developer is agreeing to a compromise.
“We are sympathetic to APCHA’s needs but we need to make it work economically,” Chris Bendon, the land-use planner representing Boerhinger, told the APCHA board last week. “The margins on this are absolutely razor thin.”
The remaining five apartments would be sold and be put into the rental pool. However, the only way that can happen is if APCHA, an employer or nonprofit can buy them and then rent to local residents.
Boehringer would give APCHA the first right of refusal to purchase those units, as well as the three legacy apartments, if the owners decide to sell.
“It’s a fairly generous offer,” APCHA Executive Director Mike Kosdrosky told the board. “I’m appreciative of this opportunity to put quality rental units (into the inventory).”
The purchasing price option for an employer is set at $580,000 per unit, which would be deed restricted as category 5.
That income category was recently created by APCHA, and allows for one person to earn as much as $181,440 a year. Two people is just over $207,000 a year.
Because the category was just created, rental prices haven’t been formalized but Kosdrosky on Thursday estimated that they would be between roughly $2,000 and $2,500 for a one-bedroom, and $2,200 and $2,800 for a two-bedroom.
As proposed, there would be six two-bedrooms and two one-bedrooms in the affordable-housing development.
Bendon said the neighborhood, which is at the base of Smuggler Mountain, is becoming gentrified with vacation homes.
“This is the type of property that slowly evaporates and slides into second-home territory,” he said.
This project would preserve some of the local flavor, and an opportunity for employers to provide affordable housing to attract and retain employees, he added.
“It’s an opportunity and hopefully we see more of it,” Bendon said.
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It might be public service serving on Aspen City Council but it doesn’t pay enough, the majority of electeds say. That’s why they are proposing to give their successors a $12,000 raise.