Aspen Lumberyard Affordable Housing
Nestled at the base of Deer Hill, three miles down valley from the downtown core of Aspen, the 11-acre Lumberyard Affordable Housing Neighborhood site lies directly across Highway 82 from the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport. This neighborhood will serve as a new dynamic gateway to Aspen. It will create 277 new affordable homes for a community, similar to many other mountain west communities, that is facing a severe affordable housing crisis. Cushing Terrell visited numerous existing affordable housing developments in Aspen, sat down with city staff and local stakeholders, and worked with the City Council to understand the context as well as Aspen and Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority’s Vision and Philosophy related to affordable housing. Through this on the ground, collaborative process, Cushing Terrell crafted the following vision for the Lumberyard Neighborhood:
A stable, thriving, affordable neighborhood that is pedestrian friendly, environmentally sustainable, connected, and welcoming that looks, lives, and feels authentically Aspen.
One of the major conclusions of the previous planning process, dating back to 2019, was a recommendation for 100% of the required 425 parking spaces to be underground. The City Council’s main question to Cushing Terrell was: “Are there alternatives to this 100% underground parking approach?” This issue and a handful of other core concerns of the City Council formed the scope of a customized schematic design process. In developing the parking alternatives, Cushing Terrell collaborated with the City Council to determine the core Guiding Principles of Community Connection, Sustainability, Pedestrian Friendly, Living Well, and Authentically Aspen. The team developed four parking alternatives that provide a range of underground parking from 73% to 56% to 40% down to 0%. They analyzed each scheme against each of the Guiding Principles and project feasibility aspects of construction cost as well as operations and maintenance. Cushing Terrell created a site comparison matrix that evaluated 32 different elements related to Guiding Principles and project feasibility for each of the four schemes. Through this evaluation, it was clear that the concepts embodied in the “Hinge” scheme most closely aligned with the Guiding Principles. Therefore, it became the recommended and ultimately City Council-approved basis to further develop the schematic design for the neighborhood.
Cushing Terrell has followed an equally rigorous process in assisting Aspen in determining a pathway forward related to sustainability. Workshops were held with Aspen city staff and other local environmental stakeholders and through a consensus process arrived at a list of “must haves” in terms of environmental stewardship and resiliency. Cushing Terrell’s internal sustainability team prepared a detailed evaluation that looked at seven different sustainably strategies/certification approaches and determined that Enterprise Green Communities Plus (EGC+) most closely aligned with Aspen’s vision, commitments, and aspirations to be a leader in terms of creating highly sustainable affordable housing. In addition to EGC+, the City Council also approved Cushing Terrell’s recommendation to target a net zero baseline of 75% on-site offset with the ability to go higher based on future development explorations.
At the center of this holistic design process is a robust community engagement effort, including in-person open house workshops, online surveys, and the Lumberyard Project website that generated meaningful feedback. This array of strategies helped clearly articulate the public’s wants, needs, and desired priorities for the Neighborhood. Cushing Terrell evaluated the results of all this critical feedback, presented it to City Council who then utilized this information as part of their decision-making process for next steps for the Lumberyard neighborhood. With an anticipated development cost of $400 million, the Lumberyard neighborhood will provide, across a range of incomes, a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom units composed of 195 rental units and 82 deed-restricted for sale units.