Recession a game-changer for Snowmass employee housing |

Recession a game-changer for Snowmass employee housing

Katie Redding
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

SNOWMASS VILLAGE ” The current recession has recently dealt Snowmass’ employee housing program several unexpected scenarios ” on past, present and future projects.

For example, a recent lottery application period for employee housing units in Base Village saw substantially fewer buyers than usual.

There was an average of just more than two bidders per condominium on five ski-in, ski-out units ” ranging from a studio and one- and two-bedroom units ” in Base Village priced between $99,759 and $244,421.

In years past, said Housing Administrator Terri Everest, a two-bedroom unit would see 11 or 12 applicants, and a one-bedroom unit might have between five and eight.

At its April 6 meeting, the Snowmass Town Council will decide whether it should hold off building more employee housing at its Rodeo Place site, because of this falling short-term demand ” or whether falling construction costs make the present a good time to build.

At a March 16 meeting, several council members expressed concern about moving forward with Phase II of the town’s Rodeo Place project, given the current economic instability.

In response, Resort Opportunities and Investments, which is managing the project for the town, recently prepared a list of pros and cons about going forward.

It argued that current economic conditions have presented the town with “an unprecedented opportunity to build.” Construction costs are lower, and contractors more available, than they have been for a long time, noted Resort Opportunities and Investments. Interest rates are also at an all-time low.

The firm noted, however, that demand is hard to gauge because the 2005 housing survey ” or even the 2008 housing survey ” may no longer be valid because of drastic market changes in the last four or five months.

If it has to hold onto housing that isn’t selling, or spend money to buy down the cost of the homes, that could hurt the cash flow in the town’s excise fund, noted Resort Opportunities and Investments.

To mitigate risk, it suggested dividing the construction into three phases, each of which would be preceded by a lottery that could gauge demand.

The recession also appears to have precipitated a request for financial assistance from current owners of deed-restricted housing.

Owners of the deed-restricted Country Club Townhomes will return to the council Monday, April 6 to ask the town to pay 100 percent ” about $924,000 ” of a renovation project they argue was pushed through by the owners of the free-market units, over their objections.

The town previously agreed to fund 75 percent of the renovation.

“But in nearly a year and a half since plan was approved, things have changed,” stated the request. “In the current economic climate we feel it falls short and puts undue financial hardship on the individual units to fund the remaining 25 percent.”

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