Cardiff teacher housing and Glenwood developer incentives approved
Plans to create a dozen Roaring Fork School District teacher housing units at a south Glenwood Springs residential project earned City Council’s approval Thursday night.
Coupled with the amended development plans for the Cardiff Mesa project on Airport Road is also a new city ordinance that allows developers to seek impact fee waivers if they voluntarily build deed-restricted rental units.
Any apartments that carry rent limits targeted at those earning up to 120 percent of the Garfield County Area Median Income (AMI) would qualify for the fee waivers. The units would have to be rented to people employed within Glenwood Springs or a company based here.
The Cardiff Mesa project, where three of five separate apartment buildings in the 21-unit project are to be sold to the school district as part of its new teacher housing program, is the “guinea pig” of sorts for the new policy, said City Attorney Karl Hanlon.
Even by targeting local employees earning 120 percent of current AMI, rents would be capped at $1,884 per month, an admittedly high figure.
“That is higher than maybe we would have thought,” Hanlon said, suggesting that City Council might want to look instead at 100 percent when it considers the ordinance on second reading in a couple of weeks.
The current Garfield County AMI is $68,700 per year.
Developer Peter Waller’s larger 55-unit Silver Sage project, of which Cardiff Mesa is one portion, will be the first to test the waters of the new affordable housing provision.
Waller earned City Council approval Thursday to add four additional units and change the mix of overall units to include one-bedroom apartments at the request of the school district.
Transfer of the 12 units to the district will satisfy Waller’s affordable housing obligation to the city. The rental units will become part of the school district’s new teacher housing program that accounted for a $15 million portion of last year’s $122 million voter-approved bond issue.
The district recently closed on the purchase of 17 residential units at the Willits development in Basalt and six units at the Ironbridge development south of Glenwood Springs. Plans are also in the works to build teacher housing on district-owned property in Carbondale.
The amended Cardiff Mesa plan came on a 5-1 City Council vote despite concerns about new development in the south Glenwood area due to the need for major improvements on South Midland Avenue and the 27th Street bridge. Council recently OK’d a moratorium on new development applications in that area until it can come up with a plan to pay for the street and bridge improvements.
“At this point, this is an approved project,” Mayor Mike Gamba pointed out regarding a development that was first granted approval in 2013.
“The question is, do these changes make the project better or worse?” Gamba said. “I feel they make it better, in that it’s now affordable.”
If the deal goes through with the school district, Waller will also benefit from an estimated $112,000 in fee waivers under the newly adopted ordinance because the teacher units will have rent restrictions.
Waller had asked that all 21 units qualify for fee waivers. Unless he decides to place rent restrictions on the other nine apartments, council was unwilling to grant the additional waivers.
Waller said he expects the Cardiff Mesa units to rent for $1,400 a month for a two-bedroom unit and $1,000 for a one-bedroom unit.
Initially, the city was also going to require Waller to pay to put in curb, gutter, sidewalks and landscaping and repave a 750-foot stretch of Airport Road.
Instead, Waller will only need to put a 3-inch asphalt overlay on the road and plant 60 percent of the trees originally required.
A parking variance from 51 to 47 off-street parking spaces was also granted.
Waller said he expects to close the purchase contract with the school district in January and start construction in May. The project should be completed by May of 2018, he said.
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The Glenwood Springs City Council voted to extend the existing face covering mandate for indoor public-facing spaces within city limits during Thursday night’s meeting.