Centennial Homeowners: What is not understood
At a recent Aspen City Council meeting, council member Rachel Richards responded to a statement about the horrific state of the Centennial ownership buildings during public comment. Richards asked that since the Centennial rental complex under original developer Sam Brown’s ownership was able to repair its buildings, shouldn’t the 92 individual owners of the Centennial condos be able to do the same thing? We’d like to explain the stark differences between the two.
For 35 years, the 147 rental apartments generated revenue for Brown as he charged the maximum rent allowed by APCHA. This was his for-profit business. Based on the recent $50 million sale of his property to a private company, Brown was motivated by a potential windfall to make his property attractive and salable to prospective buyers.
The 92 owners of Centennial HOA do not have a revenue stream. These are our homes and not real estate investments as dictated by APCHA’s charter. Most are still owned by lenders as we are paying off mortgages. The 3% annual appreciation APCHA allowed most homeowners is wiped out by our interest rates.
Ms. Richards also tried to argue that many complexes have similar needs, like upgrades to electrical systems. This is not the type of need burdening Centennial. Centennial has critical design flaws and structural failures. Issues like plumbing and electrical are already addressed regularly. Centennial HOA has diligently maintained its property or its buildings would have been uninhabitable long ago. Our homeowners are paying among the highest monthly dues of any APCHA HOA because of the need for critical structural repairs in addition to regular maintenance.
Ms. Richards acknowledged that Brown had to repair his rental buildings. He spent $4.5 million over 15 years on the same repairs our buildings need. In 2014, the city contracted the same company, Athen Builders, to provide a cost estimate and six-year plan for the owner units, which came in at $3.24 million.
When directed by City Council to collaborate on a shared resolution with Centennial HOA, City staff refused to discuss it and continued to deny the facts. Centennial’s flaws should have been a non-issue by now. The current repair estimate is $11 million.
Despite the repairs on the rental units and numerous expert studies, Brown and the current and former city staff claimed there was nothing wrong with these buildings.
Did Brown spend millions of dollars tearing off the exterior walls and repairing the water-damaged structure of his rental buildings because they were well-maintained and only needed minor touch ups?
How is this even close to the same scenario that the homeowners face? A landlord trying to maintain his failing property so he can sell it, versus an HOA of 92 individual owners of devalued condos in which deed restrictions severely limit equity and prevent any compensation for critical capital investments. Aspen’s housing program allows for poor quality housing to be built, but then requires owners to correct the defects at free market rates while specifically disincentivizing investment in critical repairs.
Why is this City letting Birge and Held, the new owners of the rental buildings, tear down and rebuild the existing apartments and build 60 free market units on land that is zoned for only deed restricted housing?
No one living here is profiting from owning a deed restricted condo. These buildings are a sinkhole for our wages as we struggle just to keep the roofs over our heads and waterfalls from our living rooms. Where are we supposed to get the millions necessary to keep our buildings standing when our deed restrictions limit the value of our buildings and therefore prevent us from qualifying for large bank loans. They specifically disallow us from recouping any investment made to correct the incompetent design and repair the ensuing damage it has caused.
Is it egregious to ask a city to pitch in for the first time to provide safe housing when they inherited these 92 condos with no subsidy or outlay of public funds and have collected a commission on every sale for 30 years?
Centennial Homeowners’ HOA Board of Directors: Dios Long, Patty Kravitz, Jason Closic, Tamar Johnson, Ed Cross, Randall Eis, Russell Shaffran and Jessica Wittlin