Habitat for Humanity plans to build affordable units in Rifle | PostIndependent.com

Habitat for Humanity plans to build affordable units in Rifle

Rifle City Council to decide on whether to approve fee waivers

A nonprofit organization is looking to build an 18-unit development in Rifle.

Habitat for Humanity approached the Rifle City Council in June, requesting that the city approve fee waivers for several specific development fees, including water, wastewater and parkland fees, among others.

Building plans for the site, a 2-acre lot on the south side of the city that was donated to Habitat, include 10 townhomes and eight condos. The eight condos would be reserved for seniors, while the 10 townhomes would target working families.

According to the proposal, Habitat said the condos are anticipated to sell for $170,000 to $190,000, while the townhomes are anticipated to sell for $240,000 to $290,000.

The grand total of major fees for the proposed project is $245,409.

During a Wednesday City Council workshop, council members asked whether waiving some feeds would in fact keep the units affordable.

“If we give them this credit, is it going to decrease the price of these condos?” Council member Clint Hostettler said.

The current year-to-date average sales price (through April) for a condo or townhome in Garfield County is $383,039, a 15.7% increase from 2020, according to data provided by the Colorado Association of Realtors.

Council member Sean Strode echoed Hostettler’s views.

“I want to make sure that people can afford to live there, that we’re not actually just setting them up to failure,” he said. “And I don’t know if that’s my role to come in and say that they need to do this, but that’s how I feel.”

Council member Brian Condie said he’d like to see city employees live in the proposed units.

“I want city employees, even in one of these condos, you know? Get them out of their own rentals, so that they can start equity in our community,” he said. “That’s what I’m talking about: handling all the city employees.”

Though no action was taken because it was just a workshop, Hostettler said he’s willing to approve up to $100,000 in fee waivers for the proposed development.

On Thursday, Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork Valley President Gail Schwartz said the organization would be “so grateful” if the city were to approve $100,000 in fee waivers.

“For the City Council to consider forgoing certain fees is really, really exceptional,” she said.

Currently, Habitat is looking to build the units at an estimated $200 per square foot, Schwartz said.

Addressing the council’s concerns over keeping the units affordable, Schwartz said Habitat’s goal is to sell to residents who make approximately 80% of area median income in Garfield County, which is about anything equal to or less than about $67,000.

In addition, Habitat intends to invest in the Rifle community by serving its local seniors and employees.

“Our goal is to develop a neighborhood that we feel will be attractive, that will be a long-term investment for families and for the community,” she said. “And also having the support of habitat long term.”

If the city were to approve the fee waiver for Habitat, it wouldn’t be the first in relation to affordable housing developments.

City Planning Director Patrick Waller said the city approved a $200,000 fee waiver for the 50-unit Rifle Housing Authority Project in 2019 and some fee waivers for a smaller, three-unit Habitat for Humanity project in Rifle between 2008 and 2009.

Schwartz said if and when the project is approved, the plan is for construction to be completed in 18 months.

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or rerku@citizentelegram.com.

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