Indiana-based firm interested in buying Aspen affordable housing complexes
An Indiana-based company interested in buying at least three affordable housing complexes from the city of Aspen won the support of the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority board Wednesday to pursue the idea.
In an Aug. 26 letter from Ronda Weybright, president and CEO of RealAmerica Companies, which recently developed an affordable housing complex in Basalt, she expressed interest in buying complexes at Truscott, Marolt Ranch and Smuggler.
RealAmerica would purchase the properties with tax credit financing and tax exempt bonds, which would allow the company to upgrade the aging buildings, as well as maintain and manage them.
“It could be a win for APCHA by relieving you of the strain of managing the apartments. It could be a win for the residents of the apartments by upgrading the apartments and taking care of all the maintenance issues. It could be a win for the taxpayers of Aspen by providing APCHA with non-taxpayer funds from the sale of the apartments to reinvest in owner-occupied housing that has deferred maintenance,” reads the letter to APCHA Executive Director Mike Kosdrosky and board chair John Ward.
Ward said at Wednesday’s meeting that the idea is worth pursuing.
“I think it’s an interesting opportunity,” he said.
In an interview Wednesday prior to APCHA’s board meeting, Jeff Ryan, vice president of development for RealAmerica, said the company has been interested in other local partnerships since it got involved in the Basalt project.
“We’ve been thinking about it for a while,” he said. “We wanted to show the people of the valley what we could do.”
ACPHA is a special limited partner with RealAmerica in Roaring Fork Apartments because its not-for-profit status gave the project the ability to get tax credits from the Colorado Housing Finance Authority.
“We struck a deal with them on behalf of (Pitkin) county and the city,” Kosdrosky said at the APCHA meeting. “Working with the CEO and staff, we’ve had a good experience. … It’s something worth exploring and hearing what they have to say.”
With Truscott phase 2 recently coming out of its initial tax credit compliance period, RealAmerica representatives think that property would be prime for bond and tax credit allocation and rehabilitation.
Truscott phase 1 and the complex near the base of Smuggler Mountain could be wrapped into the same bond project, according to Weybright’s letter.
Kosdrosky said in an interview Wednesday that it’s not unprecedented for a private company to manage government-owned affordable housing — Burlingame seasonal housing is managed by Preferred Properties.
RealAmerica has been developing affordable housing for 25 years and currently manages more than 2,000 units, with most of them participating in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program or other federal and state programs.
The company specializes in real estate lending, development, design, construction and property management.
APCHA board alternate and Aspen City Councilwoman Rachel Richards said because the properties that RealAmerica is interested in are owned by the city, representatives from the municipal government need to be part of future conversations.
“Other partners need to be at the table, maybe city finance or the city manager,” she said. “It’s a city asset.”
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The Aspen Institute will for the first time in its history contribute to the affordable housing inventory by offering to buy housing credits for its new Herbert Bayer center.