Private developer eyes three affordable-housing projects in Aspen |

Private developer eyes three affordable-housing projects in Aspen

Aspen City Council on Tuesday took the first steps in forging a partnership with a private-sector group that would develop affordable rental housing on three city-owned properties.

“Our primary goal for Aspen Housing Partners is to basically buy, own and operate affordable housing in the Roaring Fork Valley,” said Jason Bradshaw, a Dallas developer who recently moved to Aspen.

Bradshaw was joined by seven other members of the Aspen Housing Partners team that was formed through a joint partnership between Massachusetts-based SCG Development Partners and Colony Partners Inc. of Oklahoma City.

The city-owned properties eyed for development are located at 802 W. Main St., 517 Park Circle and 488 Park Circle Road.

The rental units would be a mix of Categories 1 through 4 under the Housing Authority’s guidelines. A preliminary proposal calls for 11 one-bedroom and two two-bedroom units at West Main Street; four one-bedroom, five two-bedroom, and two three-bedroom units at Park Circle; and 15 one-bedroom and nine two-bedroom units at Castle Creek.

The city would lease the land to Aspen Housing Partners under the agreement.

Aspen Housing Partners would, according to the discussion and memo to the council, “design, build, finance and operate” the new rental units.

“We’re taking the city off the financial hook for everything,” Bradshaw told the council. “They are going to be rent controlled for 15 years and at that time we would grant the city the right to purchase it back for whatever debt is on the property with any taxes that incurred on the property.”

Financing the projects would, in part, come through either 4 percent or 9 percent federal and state affordable-housing credits. Early projections put the cost at $24.2 million, with $12.7 million coming through housing tax credits, $4.6 million through a first mortgage loan and a second $6.9 million mortgage loan from the city of Aspen.

“Under this development scenario they would build and operate, and our participation would be as a financing partner to augment between the tax-credit financing and the mortgage financing,” said Assistant City Manager Barry Crook.

Both Crook and Chris Everson, who is the city’s affordable-housing project manager, said they are on board with Aspen Housing Partners because it would absorb all construction cost overruns and operating shortfalls instead of the city. The group also would be responsible for oversight of the development, property management and other aspects of the projects.

While Aspen Housing Partners would shoulder the financial risk, council members still voiced caution about the proposal.

“Are you prepared for the potential challenges of developing in Aspen?” Mayor Steve Skadron said. “You’re about to venture into something … that you have no idea.”

Bradshaw responded, “This is a small community, and I wouldn’t sign up for this if I wasn’t prepared to face everybody with what we’re going to do.”

The council agreed to hire a third party to vet the proposed financing and the partnership agreement of Aspen Housing Partners. They also are seeking an alternate scenario in which the city would act as the developer to compare the two options.

The parties will meet against next month at a City Council work session in which a draft agreement will be presented for possible approval.

Aspen Housing Partners was chosen over four applicants in the request-for-proposals process overseen by the city manager’s, Capital Asset and Community Development offices, Pitkin County and the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Office.

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