Snyder Park wins city OK
Construction of the Snyder Park affordable housing project – fora new price tag of $4.3 million – will proceed, the Aspen CityCouncil agreed Monday.But how affordable the east side housing project will be for buyersremains up in the air.The council voted 3-1 to approve the $4.3 million budget for theproject, but put off a decision on how much the city will ultimatelypay to subsidize Snyder Park and how much workers who buy theunits will put toward the cost. With yesterday’s approval, construction of the 15-unit complexwill commence as soon as the ground thaws. Housing program managerLee Novak estimated work will begin in three to six weeks, dependingon the weather. B&H General Contractors has been awarded the contractto build the project.Most of Monday’s discussion centered on how much the city shouldsubsidize the project. On the low end, council members consideredputting $2 million into Snyder, with unit buyers making up therest of the project cost. On the high end, a $3.6 million subsidywas suggested. Councilman Terry Paulson said it is imperative to keep the projectaffordable to residents in the lower income categories. But tokeep nine units at Snyder within reach for a household (with nodependents) earning up to $39,765, the city subsidy for Snyderwould hit $3.6 million. On the other extreme, if the city wants to cap its subsidy at$2 million, the units would be targeted toward households (withno dependents) making $104,540 or more. A $3.6 million subsidy would mean a one-bedroom apartment at SnyderPark could sell for $78,300; the $2 million subsidy would up thesale price of seven one-bedroom units to $196,000 and two one-bedroomapartments to $350,000.The council, struggling with whether the project should be asaffordable as possible to buyers or to the city, could not reacha consensus.Paulson argued the higher subsidy is the only way to prevent “therich people living in town and the poor people being forced intothe country.” But Councilman Jake Vickery said he could not support the conceptof “housing at any cost,” and advocated holding the line on thecost to the city. He cast the sole dissenting vote on approvingthe Snyder budget. Council members Rachel Richards and Jim Markalunas pushed forthe middle ground, calling for a broader mix of incomes amongbuyers of the units.”The outcome has to be a good mix. It has to be representativeof the community,” Markalunas said.Council members will take up the Snyder subsidy issue again onMarch 22.The Snyder project hit a snag last fall when construction bidscame in about $1 million over the $3.1 million estimate. The projectwas rebid in hopes of lowering the cost, but the new round ofbidding produced the $4.3 million price tag.
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