Three Aspen employee homes sell for $1.3 million each, one to go to lottery |

Three Aspen employee homes sell for $1.3 million each, one to go to lottery

Three homes with prices out of reach for many of Aspen’s working-class residents recently sold for $1.3 million each through the local affordable-housing program.

The Aspen government, the developer of worker housing at Burlingame Ranch, closed on the sale of the single-family homes earlier this month.

“I was confident that we would get the buyers, though some other people were a little less confident,” Assistant Manager Barry Crook said.

The buyers included residents with white-collar jobs ranging from a certified public accountant to a physician.

The homes were sold as resident-occupied, or RO, a housing category intended for residents who can’t qualify for home ownership under Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority’s category structure but also are priced out of Aspen’s free market, where the average single family home sold for $7.4 million during this year’s first quarter, according to a report issued this week by Douglas Elliman real estate.

“The affordability gap is just absurd,” said Chris Everson, the city’s affordable-housing project manager.

Using Grand Junction-based PNCI Construction Inc. as the general contractor, the city built four RO homes in the most recent development phase at Burlingame Ranch. The fourth buyer the city had — purchasers were selected on a first come, first served basis — backed out about a month ago, Crook said.

That home will be sold through an APCHA lottery within the next two weeks. Residents wishing to enter the lottery must show proof that they are prequalified buyers, Crook said.

The home up for grabs is located at 500 Paepcke Drive. And like the one at 510 Paepcke that closed April 19, it has three bedrooms, two baths, 1,600 square feet of livable space, a 500-square-foot finished basement and a 250-square-foot garage.

The other two homes, which closed April 19 and 20, have addresses at 209 and 221 Forge Road and cover 1,900 square feet of livable space and include 480-square-foot basements and 250-square-foot garages.

The sales come after the Aspen City Council in May 2016 agreed that the city sell the homes at cost. That decision was based partly on the fact that while the city was not providing a direct subsidy to buyers, they were still getting a subsidy by acquiring the homes at cost, council members reasoned.

Crook and Everson also noted that the demand for the RO homes for sale grew in the wake of APCHA changing its asset rules for RO owners. APCHA previously had a cap of $900,000 in household net assets for a buyer to qualify to own an RO home; that figure doubled to more than $2.25 million as part of guidelines adapted by APCHA in January. Unlike category housing, there are not maximum household income requirements for RO owners, who must meet APCHA’s residency and employment requirements.

Some of the buyers contacted for comment for this story either did not return messages or said they were not interested in discussing their new purchases in the media.

The sales closed around the same time because the homes had just received their certificates of occupancy, Crook said. The third phase of development at Burlingame Ranch could happen as soon as 2021, Crook said, noting that two more RO homes would be built in that phase.

The construction timetable, however, hinges on other affordable-housing developments the city is working on, including a public-private partnership for rental housing for workers at 517 Park Circle, 488 Castle Creek Road and 802 W. Main St.

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