Basalt, El Jebel will add 213 affordable housing units by March
The Aspen Times
MIDVALLEY AFFORDABLE HOUSING
El Jebel park expansion, 46 rental units
Willits Town Center, 50 rental units, 27 sale
Roaring Fork Apts, 56 rental units
Skico seasonal housing, 34 units
Tree Farm, 40 rental units, 10 sale
Basalt Vista, 27 sale units
Stott’s Mill, Up to 25 units
The Fields, up to 27 units
Total units: 342
Basalt and El Jebel will add 213 affordable-housing units before winter is over, and the number could swell to 342 in the not-too-distant future.
Mariner Real Estate Management led the surge by completing 50 apartments and 27 condominiums at Willits Town Center this summer. The apartments are being rented to qualified members of the public. Most of the condos were purchased by the Roaring Fork School District for rental to teachers and staff. Both complexes are open and partially occupied.
Close on its heels is the expansion of the El Jebel Mobile Home Park. Crawford Properties LLC added five pre-fabricated homes last winter and is in the process of adding another 41 residences.
Sidewalks and other final infrastructure are being completed as well as installation of skirting to prepare the residences for winter, said Robert Hubbell, president and CEO of the corporation.
They will be ready to occupy in November. The company vetted a waiting list of 304 households to select tenants.
“We’re completely full. Everyone’s been selected,” Hubbell said.
The eight two-bedroom units go for $1,800 per month, and the 38 three-bedroom units rent for $2,100 per month.
Those 127 units at Willits and El Jebel will make an immediate dent in the affordable-housing need. Other projects are on the horizon.
RealAmerica Inc. anticipates opening its 56-unit Roaring Fork Apartments next to Stubbies bar and restaurant in March, according to president Ronda Weybright. There is already a list of 79 households potentially interested in renting, she said.
Roaring Fork Apartments will target an often-neglected segment of the market — the lower end. Forty-four units will target households making less than 60 percent of the area median income. Six units will be rented for $450 to $550 per month; 11 will be rented at between $810 and $980 per month; and 27 will be rented for between $1,000 and $1,200 per month.
The remaining 12 will be rented at 120 percent of area median income, producing a rent between $1,350 and $1,450.
Aspen Skiing Co. also is using midvalley property to ease its affordable-housing shortage. It is adding 34 additional tiny homes to its Aspen Basalt Campground for seasonal workers. The mobile units will be moved in for winter.
While that housing is a private-sector project with the residences reserved exclusively for Skico seasonal workers, its addition relieves pressure on the broader rental market.
Four additional projects are in various stages of local government approvals. The 27-condo Basalt Vista project at Basalt High School will seek final approval tonight from the Basalt Town Council. If approved that will add 27 for-sale units for teachers and staff in the Roaring Fork School District as well as 12 units for qualified workers in Pitkin County. The project, led by Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork, has received the first of two approvals needed from the town.
Stott’s Mill also is up for a second reading of an approval. There are 25 affordable-housing units included in the 113-unit subdivision. The free-market units also are intended to be “attainable” for workers by design — with small lot sizes.
In the El Jebel area, the Tree Farm project was approved by Eagle County and will be phased in over time. The 340 residences include 40 deed-restricted rental units and 10 price-capped for-sale units.
Tree Farm also includes 150 resident-occupied units. Once they are listed for sale, the units can be purchased only over the first 60 days by qualified residents of the valley and Eagle County. After the 60-day period lapses, they can be sold to anyone. Therefore, there’s no guarantee they will remain affordable housing.
The Eagle County commissioners also are reviewing a project called The Fields, which has as many as 27 affordable-housing units. The outcome of the vote remains uncertain.
The completion and pursuit of the projects follows a consultant’s advice to Basalt officials in April 2015 to build a minimum of 200 affordable-housing units over the next five years. The completed and approved projects in Basalt alone add as many as 185 units.
Basalt Town Manager Ryan Mahoney, who took the helm in June, said it appears that good progress is being made on affordable housing, given the number of units being built and the recommended goal.
“I think the scorecard looks pretty good,” he said.
However, Basalt cannot stop once 200 units are built, he said. The addition of the affordable housing still lags behind demand.
There are no numbers available to quantify the demand for affordable housing. Anecdotally, the demand seems as great as ever.
“There’s still a lot of need,” said Hubbell, noting that 304 households became interested in the El Jebel Mobile Home Park addition just through word of mouth.