New Snowmass housing director shares plans for Coffey Place, more enforcement and changes to program | AspenTimes.com

New Snowmass housing director shares plans for Coffey Place, more enforcement and changes to program

If all goes according to plan, Snowmass' newest for-sale, employee-housing development could be vertical as early as fall 2020.

Named in honor of the late Joe Coffey, a beloved member of the Snowmass community and longtime housing director who died in January, Coffey Place will be located next to the rodeo subdivisions.

"If we're lucky and things go well, I think we're looking to break ground maybe at the end of summer next year," town housing director Betsy Crum said Monday, "with a 12-15 month construction cycle, so (it) would be two to two-and-a-half years at this point to get to sale."

Crum moved to Snowmass in April from Hartford, Connecticut, where she served as executive director of the Women's Institute for Housing and Economic Development, to lead the town's housing department.

She appeared before the Snowmass Town Council at a meeting Monday to formally introduce herself and provide an update on the town's housing situation.

Plans for Coffey Place are progressing and the town is working with the Aspen-based firm Charles Cunniffe Architects, Crum told council.

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The project is currently in the "due diligence" phase of soil testing and surveying, she said.

The site plan for Coffey Place calls for three duplex buildings with six units, 10 single-family homes with three bedrooms each and an alternate two-bedroom duplex. Altogether, the development would total 13 buildings, 16 units and 46 bedrooms.

The town's budget for this year allocates $3.31 million toward the project, most of which ($2.97 million) will roll over into next year, according to Crum. As proposed, the town's 2019 budget does not include any additional dollars for the development.

Asked about projected construction costs, Crum said, "We are still too early to have an accurate cost estimate, as we are still in the early design stages."

The next goal for Coffey Place is to conduct a "community meeting" with interested stakeholders, Crum said. She hopes the project will then begin the zoning process and preliminary sketch review within "the next couple of months."

As for other town projects, Crum said she is exploring areas on the sites of the town's existing housing — including Creekside, Brush Creek, Palisades, Mountain View, Mountain View II and Villas North — that could support additional development.

Crum called these "tuck-in opportunities," because the development would be designed to tuck into the existing structures, in terms of scale and architecture, and with minimal visual impact.

Town Councilman Bill Madsen, noting how built out Snowmass is, expressed support of Crum's "tuck-in" notion.

Also moving forward, Crum said, "In 2019 with the budget, we'll look to be a little more aggressive on the enforcement."

In conversations with Town Manager Clint Kinney on the issue, she said, "I think we need do it in a way that gives people time to come into compliance if they're not in compliance, but that still respects the requirements of our housing."

While the town does not boast too many requirements, Crum said, the ones that exist are "straightforward, important and form the foundation of our housing program."

Enforcement and development aside, Crum said she also is considering a few changes to Snowmass' housing regulations, one of which is to incentivize downsizing.

"Right now it's tough for people who own, especially some of the larger homes, because they don't meet the income and asset limits if they want to downsize," Crum explained. "So it's a disincentive, really, for anyone to ever leave these larger single-family homes in our portfolio."

The housing director said she receives about two or three calls per day from people who have been offered a job in Snowmass Village and are searching for a place to live. These folks say the offer is contingent on finding housing, according to Crum.

"This is relatively recent," she said, suspecting it is somewhat tied to Base Village and the Limelight Hotel hiring.

Another area Snowmass' housing department is looking to improve is the notion and regulations surrounding home-based businesses.

Crum said she has experienced "a lot of complications and time spent" around this idea, as more and more people are starting their own businesses and working from home.

"We want to honor the concept, understanding that the way people do business is changing," Crum said.

Her goal is to implement any changes to the housing department's longstanding regulations before it breaks ground on the next phase of development.

Altogether, the department manages and maintains six rental-apartment complexes containing 247 apartment units and also administers the sale of 176 deed-restricted units consisting of single-family homes, townhouses and condominiums.

"There's a lot going on, we have a great staff, I want to mention what a great legacy Joe Coffey left to this town," Crum said.

Assuming Coffey's role "has been fun and exciting (because) he left something good behind, so it was not difficult," she said.

Coffey was hired Jan. 1, 1980, as the first director of the town's brand new housing authority, which he led for nearly four decades until his death. In his 38 years at the helm, Coffey oversaw the conceptualization, bidding processes and construction of the town's more than 420 housing units, according to Kinney.

Among Coffey's many goals throughout his tenure, Kinney told the Sun earlier this year, was to ensure that the town's properties fit well within the community, and to let each resident know that his door was always open.

erobbie@aspentimes.com