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Sales for new affordable housing units at Burlingame delayed until 2023

City of Aspen questioning construction quality due to labor shortages and supply chain issues

The construction site for the third phase of Burlingame Ranch sits quietly on Friday, July 29, 2022, outside Aspen. Sales for the affordable housing units have been delayed to next year.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

What was once an expedited plan to deliver more affordable housing units to the community, the third phase of the city of Aspen’s Burlingame Ranch is now delayed as officials inspect the quality of what’s being built.

The sales of 79 modules were scheduled to begin in September, but city officials announced Friday that the units won’t be offered until sometime next year.

While supply chain interruptions and labor shortages have contributed to the delay of the project since 2021, they now have led to challenges with construction quality and delivery schedule, according to Chris Everson, the city’s senior project manager.



“We need to prioritize the quality of these units before expedience,” he said Friday. “The units won’t be ready at the right standard of care, so we are delaying the sales until 2023.”

Through the city’s quality assurance program, some issues have arisen about whether the prefabricated modules were constructed correctly.




The city has hired two engineering consultants, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc. and Unified Building Sciences & Engineering Inc., to inspect the modules onsite to determine what, if anything, needs to be remediated.

“We don’t know if we are going to spend additional funds to do this,” Everson said. “We have to ascertain what the issues are.”

Everson said he expects the reports from the engineering firms within the coming weeks. 

The construction site for the third phase of Burlingame Ranch sits quietly on Friday, July 29, 2022, outside Aspen. Sales for the affordable housing units have been delayed to next year.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

The units were constructed by module building manufacturer Guerdon LLC in its Boise, Idaho, plant.

The modules are boxes already manufactured that come with everything necessary for a livable home — insulation, drywall, windows, floors, carpet, faucets, water heaters, stoves, bathtubs and showers, washers and dryers, shelving and the kitchen sink.

Once delivered on site, the boxes were placed on already-poured foundations via crane and then “stitched” together to make up 79 one-, two- and three-bedroom units.

But because of supply chain problems, including long material lead times, the city had to accept some of the modules without all the necessary items, which has created issues, Everson said.

The project is 75% complete and work is still continuing on the site but not on some buildings as they are being inspected, he noted.

In late 2021, staff cautioned elected officials and the public about potential delays to the delivery schedule.

City housing officials informed Aspen City Council in February that delivering the eight buildings on a staggered schedule would be necessary rather than as a complete project.

“There is no one issue which has caused the delay of unit sales to 2023,” Everson said in a city press release. “Instead, numerous compounding issues have resulted in the city’s need to push back the sales timeline.”

The construction site for the third phase of Burlingame Ranch sits quietly on Friday, July 29, 2022, outside Aspen. Sales for the affordable housing units have been delayed to next year.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Council in 2019 decided to go the pre-fab route to speed up delivery of workforce housing, of which the community has a dearth and is in crisis mode to house people.

The third phase of the project, with land and historical costs, is budgeted at just over $63.5 million.

“We may need to request additional budget to cover expenses for extending the schedule into 2023,” Everson said. “We will continue to study that as we head toward the usual October budget process.”

When completed, this third and final phase will finish out the 258-unit city developed neighborhood that began in the mid-2000s and has cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

csackariason@aspentimes.com

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