The Aspen City Council voted 5-0 on Tuesday to approve the sales and lottery process for 79 affordable housing units in Burlingame Ranch Phase III, which will be ready for occupancy this fall.
The units will be sold in four lottery groups, two buildings at a time, roughly between September and November of this year. Priority will go to applicants employed within Aspen’s urban growth boundary at the time of purchase, as well as current affordable housing residents looking to downsize their units. Applicants will not be allowed to bid for units above their income category.
Council members discussed the sales and lottery process during a work session Monday before unanimously approving it at Tuesday’s regular meeting.
Phase III is the final step in the construction of the Burlingame Ranch affordable housing development, which the city began planning in 2000. It will include 100% deed-restricted affordable housing units that will be put up for lottery and sale through the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority.
The unit mix includes 25 one-bedroom, 17 two-bedroom and 37 three-bedroom units. This phase of the complex is expected to house around 200 local employees on top of the 400-plus currently housed within the project’s previous two phases.
The council’s vote arrives after council members finalized the sales and lottery process in a public discussion on Monday. The discussion came in response to a request for direction from the Chris Everson, the city’s affordable housing development senior project manager.
The council voted to allow five units in the first two lottery groups to be sold to existing APCHA residents hoping to downsize their units, as long as APCHA’s rightsizing pilot program remains within the Burlingame Ranch project. If there is enough downsizing interest after the first two lottery groups, the council said they would raise that five-unit cap for the second two groups. When the lotteries open, applicants who express interest in downsizing will receive some priority in the lottery process, according to Everson.
The council also voted to prioritize sales to applicants who are employed within Aspen’s urban growth boundary at the time of purchase. They supported allowing this prioritization in perpetuity, rather than restricting them to initial sales.
Although some council members in Monday’s discussion acknowledged that bidding up one income category allows some flexibility for buyers who feel locked into their category, the council ultimately did not support allowing that ability in this sale.
Everson has said the affordability of the Burlingame III units is expected to pose issues for some buyers, especially those in the mid-Category 2 income range and lower.
The income mix of Burlingame Phase III is follows: Category 2 (17 units), Category 3 (23), Category 4 (24) and Category 5 (10). Five units will be part of the city’s employee housing program, which uses its own qualification criteria.
For lottery groups 1 and 2, APCHA qualification packets will be due Aug. 11, although that timeline could be subject to change. The units are expected to be ready for occupancy beginning in September.
After the vote, Mayor Torre said he was pleased to see the overall Burlingame project finally reaching completion. He’s dealt with issues involving Burlingame Ranch as well as its expansion for many years, not only as mayor but as a council member.
“We do a lot of hard work and it takes years and years to see these things realized. … This is the good stuff,” he said.
Austin Corona I Aspen Daily News I July 12, 2023