Marolt Ranch rent increase proposed |

Marolt Ranch rent increase proposed

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen’s Marolt Ranch housing complex needs a 9 percent rent hike this year and an influx of $76,623 from the city’s housing fund to shore up the project’s financial reserves, local housing officials concluded this week.

The Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Board voted to recommend both measures on Wednesday. They require approval by the Aspen City Council.

Marolt is a seasonal housing complex that is occupied by Aspen Music Festival and School students during the summer months and ski-season workers during the winter.

Last fall, however, the complex was slow to fill up with the winter influx of workers, and Marolt lost out on some of its anticipated rental income. In addition, replacement of its telephone system cost roughly $30,000.

The complex wound up operating at a $193,000 deficit in 2002 as a result, forcing the project to tap into its reserve funds.

“That’s a lot of money for a property that only generates about $800,000 a year in rent,” said Paul Menter, city finance director.

The complex is not in financial straits, but a series of rent increases, along with subsidies from the city this year and in 2004 – for a total of $76,623 – have been recommended to shore up its reserves. The moves are necessary to ensure the complex can continue to cover capital expenses and its debt, according to a memo to the housing board.

The project cannot exceed $1.2 million in reserve funds for capital improvements. It is currently about $400,000 short of that ceiling and should build up that fund in anticipation of upgrades that will be needed in the near future, according to Menter.

“The property is getting old, it’s starting to need improvements,” he said. “There’s a big list of several hundred-thousand dollars in improvements that need to be done.”

Marolt Ranch opened in 1991 and saw no rent increases for 10 years, before rents went up modestly in 2001.

The 9 percent hike recommended this year will increase the rent from $720 for a unit to $795. The dorm-style project contains 100 units; 96 of them are rented seasonally and can be shared by two or three individuals who split the rent.

The increase is slated to go into effect in September and won’t affect music students who reside there this summer.

In future years, a 5 percent rent hike is proposed in 2004; 9 percent in 2005; 5 percent in 2006; and 3 percent in 2007 and succeeding years.

The proposed increases over the next few years exceed what’s allowed by the Housing Authority guidelines and will need City Council approval. The guidelines allow annual rent increases in deed-restricted housing of 3 percent or the Consumer Price Index rate, whichever is less.

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