Roaring Fork Apartments in Basalt sets the bar for affordable housing | AspenTimes.com

Roaring Fork Apartments in Basalt sets the bar for affordable housing

The founder of a company that constructed a 56-unit affordable-housing complex in Basalt showed off the project at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday and said she aims to build more residences to rent below market rates in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Ronda Weybright, founder and president of RealAmerica LLC, said she hopes the Roaring Fork Apartments grab attention of policymakers and landowners in the Roaring Fork Valley.

"My whole goal with this project was, 'Look what we can do,'" Weybright said.

RealAmerica is well known and has a great reputation in its home state of Indiana, but the Basalt project was its first in Colorado. The company will remain the manager of the Roaring Fork Apartments for years to come to show that it runs a top-notch operation and spurs other opportunities.

“It took some persistence to get this one done.”

— Ronda Weybright, RealAmerica

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"Time has to tell that story," Weybright said.

Tenants have been selected for all 56 units and all but two units are occupied. Weybright said she is proud of the overall appearance of the four-story building as well as the finishes of the individual units. The apartment complex also has amenities that make it stand out, such as ski lockers on the first floor for every unit, a bike storage room, storage units and — Weybright's favorite — a pet washroom. Units on the back of the build overlook the Roaring Fork River corridor.

RealAmerica acquired the property in 2013 from a developer who had plans to build a hotel but ran into financial problems during the Great Recession. The site east of Stubbies bar and grill sat dormant for years with a concrete foundation and construction fencing.

"Where other people saw an eyesore, Ronda found potential," said Meghen Brown, a tax credit officer with the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority. She came from Denver for the ribbon cutting.

The authority awarded $11 million in tax credits in 2016 for the project. RealAmerica sold the credits to raise funds for construction. That covered 70 percent of the cost of the $16 million complex and reduced the mortgage for RealAmerica. That resulted in lower rents for residents.

Weybright said it wasn't necessarily an easy project to undertake, but one that was ultimately successful.

"It took some persistence to get this one done," she said. "The end result was exactly what I'd hoped it would be."

RealAmerica is charging less rent than Basalt affordable-housing regulations would allow on 44 of the 56 units. That translates into rents from $500 to $1,071 for one-bedroom units and between $623 and $1,285 for two-bedroom units.

The remaining 12 units are rented at rates allowed by Basalt guidelines.

Weybright said she hopes to partner in the valley with developers that must fulfill affordable-housing requirements or governments and other entities that have land that could be provided for a project.

"It's absolutely replicable," she said of the Basalt apartment complex.

scondon@aspentimes.com