RFTA, Skico tackle housing crunch | AspenTimes.com

RFTA, Skico tackle housing crunch

Aspen Times staff
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE ” Two of the biggest employers in the Roaring Fork Valley took steps Thursday to ease housing shortages for their workers.

The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s board of directors voted unanimously to buy a 15-unit apartment complex in Carbondale for $2.1 million.

Also on Thursday, a team of public-private partners broke ground on a 52-unit affordable housing project called Keator Grove. It is located on Highway 133 near the entrance to River Valley Ranch in Carbondale. The Aspen Skiing Co. is financing a major portion of that project and will eventually sell 30 of the units to its employees.

RFTA purchased the Myers Parker House Apartments at 312 Weant Blvd. It has a total of 23 bedrooms.

The asking price was $2.25 million for the rustic complex. “In light of the condition of the units, we negotiated the price to $2.1 million,” RFTA Chief Executive Officer Dan Blankenship told the organization’s board of directors. RFTA staff estimated it must invest $350,000 to upgrade the housing.

“We need it. Go forward,” said Aspen City Councilman and RFTA board member J.E. DeVilbiss.

Bruce Christensen, Glenwood Springs mayor and RFTA board member, supported the purchase with one reservation.

“By buying this, we’re taking 15 units from citizens of Carbondale,” Christensen said. Instead of promoting a “valley shell game” by purchasing existing affordable housing, he said RFTA should develop new housing.

Blankenship agreed and noted the agency is working on a plan to develop three acres it owns in Carbondale. RFTA will honor current leases of tenants of the Myers Parker House, which run through this year. They also will be given month-to-month options in 2008, in case RFTA doesn’t need the units immediately.

The Keator Grove project is a collaborative effort between the Skico, town of Carbondale, Alpine Bank, Mountain Regional Housing Corp. and Keator Grove LLC/Western Housing Solutions.

The 52-unit project received approvals but the original developers were unable to secure financing. The Skico bought the land, so that bought time to bring the partners and financing together.

The first units are scheduled to be completed by late January or early February, with a scheduled final completion date of August.

Thirty units will be sold to Skico employees, eight will be sold to buyers with limited incomes and assets, and 14 will be sold as resident occupied units with fewer restrictions.