In its first work session tonight, the newly-sworn-in Aspen City Council will concentrate on housing, an election issue on which the majority of the sitting members campaigned.
City staff is going in front of council to discuss the city’s housing development fund and present updates on several major housing projects. The formal updates will be followed by a roundtable discussion on housing issues.
The city is currently accepting proposals from firms that would help with community outreach regarding the third phase of Burlingame, the final build out of the affordable housing neighborhood on the western outskirts of Aspen.
The city already has approved designs for the development, which include two single family homes and another 79 condominiums. But in a memo to council, city officials indicated a desire for community input before beginning the building process.
“Staff proposes to perform this round of community outreach in a voluntary manner even though this is not a step required by regulation,” the memo states.
Staff also seeks a nod from council to begin a public outreach project regarding a city-owned parcel of land near the Aspen Airport Business Center, known as BMC West, or the lumberyard. The hope is to include community input for BMC West in the scope of the outreach contract for Burlingame.
“It is a fundamental opportunity to begin an earnest process of community involvement in the future development of the affordable housing facilities at the lumber yard site,” states the work session memo.
An extended timeline for the future of the site lists design work being completed by 2023 or 2024 and construction beginning the following year.
Truscott Place, the city-owned and operated rental apartments near the municipal golf course, is in need of upgrades. The 200 and 300 buildings have experienced water damage and stormwater infiltration issues. City staff is asking council to approve commissioning a study on the 46 units, examining the extent of work that might be needed.
A draft budget, should all the listed projects go forward, shows the city’s housing development fund balance drop from $23 million in holdings now to $9 million by 2026. That fund is supported by the city’s 1 percent real estate transfer tax, generating millions in revenue each year.
Additionally, the city is seeking opportunities to build more housing specifically for its own employees and is eyeing a parcel of land up Castle Creek Road, known as Water Place 505. Last year the previous council indicated a preference for 48 duplex-style units on the site. The apartments would be mostly built off-site by developer 359 Design, saving as much as 15 percent on construction costs. City staff noted that if council green lights the project now, construction could start as soon as June 2021, but warns that a delay could be costly, because construction costs in the Roaring Fork Valley have been increasing at least 5 percent annually.
A broader, roundtable discussion on general housing issues is also scheduled for Tuesday night, offering the first opportunity for the new council to discuss the issue together.