Skico invests $17 million downvalley | AspenTimes.com

Skico invests $17 million downvalley

EL JEBEL ” The Aspen Skiing Co. completed the purchase of a 62-unit apartment complex in El Jebel on Wednesday for $17 million.

The Skico bought the Sopris View Apartments from longtime Basalt businessman Clay Crossland and Paul Adams, who developed the complex in the 1990s.

The apartment complex is on Valley Road, just west of the former site of the Fitzsimmons gas station and car wash, which was recently purchased and demolished for a new development proposal.

The Skico is going to convert Sopris View into housing for its workers.

“We’re excited about it,” said Skico attorney Dave Bellack, who handled the closing on the property Wednesday afternoon. “We’re excited that amount of housing is going to remain in the rental pool in the midvalley.”

The current residents will be given time to find alternative housing.

“Everybody has the option to stay one year from closing ” so a year from Wednesday,” said Jim Laing, Skico’s vice president of human resources.

The Skico announced earlier this summer that it had a contract to buy Sopris View and plans to convert it into rental housing for its year-round employees. Laing previously said he doesn’t expect housing demand from within the company to fill all the units immediately. If that’s the case, some units will remain in the free-market rental pool.

Nevertheless, the announcement raised eyebrows among some midvalley officials because it will eventually displace more than 100 current residents. All 62 units at Sopris View have two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Rents are between $1,250 and $1,325 ” some of the lowest in the midvalley.

Critics said the Skico is addressing its housing crisis at the expense of the community at large.

Bellack countered that Sopris View was a prime candidate for redevelopment in the Roaring Fork Valley’s red-hot real estate market. Investors would likely condominiumize the project and sell the units rather than continue renting apartments at reasonable rates.

The Skico’s purchase retains the apartments as affordable housing, Bellack said. The Skico will not place a deed restriction on the apartment complex that requires it to remain affordable housing. That’s not necessary, Bellack said, because the company’s intent is to use the complex to solve its affordable housing shortage.

The purchase of the Sopris View Apartments signifies Skico’s increasing interest in looking downvalley to solve its affordable housing needs. The Skico bought the Thunder River Lodge in Carbondale last year and converted the low-end tourist accommodations into affordable housing. It has also purchased two parcels in Basalt for affordable housing.

The Skico fills about 3,500 positions during peak season at its four ski areas and other upper valley operations.

Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com.


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