Marolt: 10 reasons to lay down the law instead of lying down
It’s an extremely difficult question to answer: Why should Base Village developer, Related Whatever, LLC, have to follow the current rules for building affordable housing?
Ten absurd answers are as follows:
1. The developer is the one that will benefit most from building it. Affordable housing ensures a more stable, less costly workforce. This is very attractive to new businesses. It will make them more profitable. Those new businesses are going to be buying and renting space from Related. If their prospects for profitability are increased, they will pay more for those spaces. If they pay more for those spaces, Related scores. It’s not personal — it’s business.
In the late ’70s when the affordable-housing movement really got going in Aspen, it was business leaders who drove it, not the Socialists, as it is commonly assumed. Back then, there simply were not enough workers around. Employees were scarce, wages went up, and businesses were bummed. The new Base Village is going to require a lot of new employees to make it hum. If it goes as planned, it will create an employee shortage in the village. Related knows this. It definitely wants employee housing. It would just prefer that somebody else pay for it.
2. In a nutshell, the relative cost of the current affordable-housing requirement for Related is peanuts. The master of the Related disaster, Dwayne Romero, has told us that it could cost the company up to eight digits to build it. Let’s assume that’s $10 million since, if it was actually more than that, Dwayne most likely would have rounded up and called it nine digits.
OK, so, the potential value of the completed Base Village will be about $1 billion, or at least that’s what the developers told us in the beginning when they delivered the bill of sale to us. I think they still believe that, otherwise they wouldn’t still be here. Let’s do some simple math, then, based on this assumption: Hmmmm. Let’s see. The affordable-housing cost works out to be about 1 percent of the total potential value of Base Village.
By itself, $10 million sounds like a lot of loot; enough to maybe even evoke sympathy for poor old Related. But, compared to a billion dollars, it’s next to nothing. And, this drains the keg at the pity party and reminds us that Related stands to make a killing here. I think that’s relevant to this discussion.
3. Dwayne Romero is pulling our leg. He threatened that requiring Related to build its fair share of affordable housing under current rules is potentially a deal breaker for them. This is, in fact, the biggest pile of bovinely digested grass and corn imaginable. Don’t buy it. Don’t sniff it. Don’t chew it over. For goodness sake, don’t swallow it!
Related has more invested in this project than anyone, by far. It doesn’t make a dime, much less pay off its massive debt, until it builds Base Village and sells it. Can you imagine their monthly interest costs? Can you imagine the opportunity cost on a billion-dollar asset? Between the two, my guess is that an unfinished Base Village is costing Related somewhere around $5 million per month. In other words, if it purposefully delays the completion of the project for just two months, it could have paid for the employee housing currently required. Time to call its bluff.
4. This is the best chance in our lifetimes to get the affordable housing built that our community has decided it needs. We can’t afford to let this opportunity slip by. If we do, we will be sorry. I promise.
5. Related is building the project today; therefore it should build the amount of affordable housing that is required today. Why is there even a question about that?
6. Related should build it just because it should. Enough talk about being with us until the end, about being good neighbors and caring members of the community, and the palaver about raising all boats with the tide. So far, the tow rope appears only to be tied to their ship sunk in the harbor.
7. It’s time for our voice to change. Enough of the high-pitched, squeaky, one-word “yes” answers from Town Council. We need to grow up, get a deep voice and let Related know who is in charge.
8. We don’t need any more regrets over Base Village.
9. There is no prior agreement in place with Related. It (not us) let that one expire.
10. If Related isn’t required to pay for the affordable housing it will need, eventually we will.
Roger Marolt is begging Town Council to demand that Related build all the employee housing they should. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org