Longtime resident Jimmy D’Annibale is faced with leaving his home of nearly a decade. He is one of several tenants at the Thunder River Lodge Apartments in Carbondale whose leases will not be renewed by their landlord, Aspen Ski Company (ASC).
The apartments currently provide an affordable living option nestled between Honey Butter and Garcia’s Market off Highway 133. A studio unit goes for $825 a month, which includes utilities.
ASC Vice President of Communications Jeff Hanle told The Sopris Sun that the ski company purchased the building in 2005 or 2006. There are a total of 24 units, tenants from nine of which will have to find new housing or find employment with ASC.
D’Annibale recently discovered the notice posted to his door. It’s dated Jan. 19 and instructs that he must vacate by April 30, when his lease is up. He soon learned that many of his neighbors received a similar notice.
Hanle said that ASC now requires the studio-units for employee housing. “With the current housing and staffing challenges we all face here, it is necessary that we maximize our housing units for ASC employees,” he stated.
“We notified those living at Thunder River who are not ASC employees to find other housing arrangements at the end of their current lease,” said Hanle, “and give anyone the opportunity to find employment with ASC if that works for them.” He acknowledged the company is aware that the option to seek employment with ASC “will not work for everyone.”
Tenants occupying the other 15 units already work for ASC and will not have to leave. Hanle stated that as the nine units become vacant, ASC employees will move in. He added that the housing for its employees is not seasonal but year-round.
On behalf of ASC, Hanle claimed, the tenants had been notified in writing in September about their impending displacement, “and would need to find other arrangements by April 30.” However, tenant D’Annibale maintained that he first became aware when he came home to find the notice posted on his door in January.
The Sopris Sun was notified by more than one of the affected tenants at the end of January. D’Annibale was the only tenant comfortable with speaking on record.
Hanle alluded to the current housing crisis and said it’s affecting the company’s employees as well. “We all face some unique challenges in the current environment,” he began. “We have workers being displaced across every division and at every level in our company.”
Hanle continued, “We have people who want to work here but who we can’t find housing for. We owe it to our employees to do what we can for them, and so we have to look at every opportunity to offer our housing to our employees.”
ASC is aware of one tenant within the complex who receives Department of Housing and Urban Development (commonly referred to by its acronym: HUD) benefits whose lease will not be renewed.
“I’m not telling anybody about how bad the housing is around here,” D’Annibale quipped. He included that he personally was planning to live there until moving into senior housing one day. He works nights in Aspen and plans to seek housing through his current employer, “or any housing that’s reasonable.”
“We’ve been a family here,” said D’Annibale. “I’ve been here almost eight years; there’ve been people here 10, 11, 12, 14. We all look after each other. It’s not just a room, it’s our home.”
D’Annibale continued, “I honestly believe, maybe the people making this decision don’t know how bad they’re impacting so many people. Basically, everybody is very devastated by it.”
To that point, Hanle said, “We understand the impacts this has on individuals and we did not come to this decision lightly.”