“Affordable housing, childcare, climate change, and traffic congestion. Aspen Skiing Company’s (Ski Co) newest employee housing project aims to address all of these issues — and hopefully, provide people the opportunity for great quality of life.”
Over Memorial Day Weekend, the Aspen Skiing Company opened one of their most impressive employee housing properties: The Hub at Willits. The area of Aspen is one of the most expensive towns to live in the country, and finding affordable housing is extremely hard to come by in the area. The apartment complex is in Basalt, which is a twenty-five to thirty-five-minute drive away from the resorts. The apartment complex is 53,000 square feet with forty-three units, and construction cost over $19 million dollars. The forty-three units have one hundred and fifty beds that will be divided thirty-five for Aspen Ski Co. workers and eight for licensed child care workers. The reason for the child care apartments is due to the dire need for these workers, especially in the expensive area where there are endless job openings. The building is the first all-electric building in all of Colorado and is completely powered by solar power and cold climate heat pumps, making it a carbon-free residence. The apartment complex is in the middle of the currently Willits Town Center, which features an under-construction art center, multiple grocery stores, Crown Mountain Park, and various shops and restaurants.
The housing is located in the Willits Town Center in Basalt, which is 22 miles from downtown Aspen. Driving to Aspen is obviously not ideal and it is hard to find parking, but there is an RFTA Bus Rapid Transit station at the residences to the resorts and downtown Aspen. Also, the Aspen Times reports that rental costs for child care workers will range from $1050 to $1430 per month, and $550-800 per month for Aspen Skiing Co. employees, which is about 30% of their incomes. This is still fairly expensive, but it is a modest improvement in the competitive rental market of the Aspen area.
Despite its drawbacks, Aspen acknowledges that more affordable housing needs to become available, and they are working on making it happen. Aspen is providing its employees an excellent option for living “affordably” in one of the most beautiful and active places in the country. With now seven hundred beds for its workers, Aspen Skiing Co. stands above most mountain resorts for its employee housing accessibility. Hopefully, other ski resorts will follow suit.