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City moves forward with new affordable rentals

City of Aspen

In the midst of a housing crunch, the city of Aspen is moving forward with plans to develop three new affordable housing complexes.

On Monday, Assistant City Manager Barry Crook presented to Aspen City Council a re-worked plan for affordable rental units to be built on city-owned lots at 802 West Main Street, 517 Park Circle and 488 Castle Creek Road. It involves soliciting developers to submit specific plans for entering into private-public partnerships.

Though there are 30 separate development criteria as part of a request for proposals, many provisions are flexible, including the number of units on each lot, the income levels they will serve and the mix of flats and townhomes.

City officials hope that the selected developers will also operate the units for the next 15 to 25 years.


"“The idea is if you are going to build and operate a facility you are going to have less incentive to take a shortcut into the cost of building," said Crook


While the city government has recently put resources into providing for-sale family units, community outreach pointed to an increased demand for affordable rentals for singles. The proposed developments would be a mix of one and two bedroom apartments and at least 700 square feet on the city-owned lots. They could serve people who have income levels of between 35 to 145 thousand dollars a year. Staff also recommends taking into consideration seniors and retirees looking to downsize, who may have specific accessibility requirements. 


Parking is one issue that may need to be revisited as the proposals come in. Currently on-site parking is required - providing one parking spot per unit, which may cause a crunch in street parking in the surrounding neighborhoods. The council agreed that that ratio is a naive effort to reduce cars, one that Mayor Steve Skadron pointed out was unsuccessful at Burlingame Ranch, a community of for-sale units developed by the city across from Buttermilk.


Crook hopes requests for proposals for private developers to build affordable housing will go out in December.


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