Centennial Apartments

The Centennial rental apartments in Aspen are under new ownership.


An Indianapolis-based real estate investment firm specializing in affordable housing has purchased the 148-unit Centennial apartments complex in Aspen.

Birge & Held on Thursday closed on the purchase of the Centennial rental apartments from Centennial Aspen II LP, the company managed by Sam Brown, who developed the project in the 1980s. A record of the sale had not yet been posted to the Pitkin County clerk’s website as of Friday afternoon, meaning the purchase price has yet to be disclosed publicly.

The sale does not include the 92 units at Centennial that are owner occupied and managed by a homeowners association.

Andrew Held, president and chief operating officer of Birge & Held, said that his firm is looking at the Centennial acquisition as a long-term play. He said he looks forward to working with the city of Aspen to develop a “shared vision” for the property that will make it a great, affordable place to live for decades to come.

The Centennial apartments are subject to a deed restriction keeping them affordable to residents that was put in place when the project was built. That deed restriction has a sunset clause and is set to expire 21 years after the death of the last surviving Pitkin County commissioner — Michael Kinsley, who is in his early 70s — that approved the development.

Brown, last fall, proposed that the city pay $10 million to buy out that sunset clause and extended the deed restriction in perpetuity. Aspen City Council approved the arrangement in November, but the deal had fallen through by January.

Held said his firm was in negotiations with Brown to purchase Centennial throughout the deed restriction extension discussions. He declined comment on why the $10 million deal fell through, but said he firm was “ready to purchase the property either way.”

He wrote in an email that Birge and Held “will be reaching out to the city to discuss the future of the project, and the current deed restrictions will certainly be an important part of the discussion. There is no current negotiation with the city at this time as we are just focusing on the post-acquisition transition.”

Going forward, Held said that his firm plans to maintain the apartments to keep them viable for the long term. They are in “good shape” right now, he said, noting Brown’s continued reinvestment. That will continue under his firm’s stewardship, he said.

Held added that the current management and maintenance team will remain in place at the property and that operations for residents and the community should be “business as usual.”

According to the press release, Birge & Held has acquired more than 13,500 units since its inception in 2008, with more than $1.2 billion in assets currently under management across the country. Ninety percent of that is affordable housing, Held said.

Curtis Wackerle is the editor of Aspen Daily News. He can be reached at curtis@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @CurtisWackerle.