Affordable housing projects gain ground in Basalt

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Construction crews work on the frame of an affordable housing complex at Willits Town Center on Wednesday. The building will feature 50 apartments and 27 condominiums.
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times |

The Basalt Town Council threw its support and some financial backing behind a proposal for a 56-unit affordable apartment complex that’s been caught in limbo for three years.

The council voted 7-0 Tuesday night to lobby in support of Real America’s effort to get state tax credits to help it build the Roaring Fork Apartments adjacent to Stubbies bar.

Real America will apply this summer for credits from the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority in a highly competitive process. The company failed to earn tax credits last year. Real America President and owner Ronda Shrewsbury Weybright told the council that members of the authority said the project had a strike against it because no funding was providing by local entities.

Basalt is willing to fix that defect. The council said it will provide $175,000 if the project is awarded the credits. The funds will be provided when Real America gets its building and other permits, so it’s essentially a reduction in what the company will owe the public coffers.

Basalt council representatives will lobby Pitkin and Eagle County Commissioners for support and financial backing for the project.

Real America has approvals for 45 one-bedroom and 11 two-bedroom apartments. They would be rented to Roaring Fork Valley residents at rates that comply with Basalt’s affordable housing regulations. The project will remain deed restricted throughout its lifetime.

“This will be affordable, period,” Weybright said.

She told the council she is uncertain how she will proceed if the tax credits aren’t awarded. She bought the property after the former owner lost financing to build a hotel after completing just the foundation. She paid for planning for the site and unsuccessfully tried to work out a partnership with Pitkin County government to build housing.

Weybright said she already has “a ton” of money in the project. “It’s been a heavy carry since I bought in 2013,” she said.

Council members said they want to see the project move forward because the demand for affordable apartments is so high.

“Let us help you stack the deck,” Councilman Auden Schendler said. Basalt council representatives will lobby Pitkin and Eagle County Commissioners for support and financial backing for the project.

Councilwoman Jennifer Riffle said if the effort works and Real America gets the tax credits, the town of Basalt should receive a direct benefit for its backing, such as a unit reserved for its employees.

“For $175,000, I need a diamond ring,” she said.

In other affordable-housing news, the developer of Willits Town Center has added nine additional affordable-housing units to a complex under construction, boosting the total to 77.

Mariner Real Estate Management Inc. is constructing a building that features 50 affordable apartments, one-, two- and three-bedrooms. They will be rented under Basalt’s guidelines.

The south side of the building features condominiums. The initial plan was for nine condos, each on the second and third floors with medical offices in the ground floor. Now all three floors will feature nine condos, according to Tim Belinski, a local representative for Mariner. The demand doesn’t exist at this time for additional clinic-related space, but could be included in later phases of Willits Town Center, he said.

The downvalley school district has reserved 14 of the condos for purchase while the town of Basalt and the Basalt Fire Department have reserved two each for purchase. The public entities will have first dibs on the additional nine condos, Belinski said.

The affordable-housing project is scheduled to be finished by the end of 2016.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.