Ironbridge pitches new units to house teachers | PostIndependent.com

Ironbridge pitches new units to house teachers

About two dozen deed-restricted affordable housing units are already located at the Ironbridge golf course development south of Glenwood Springs. Developers are offering six units that are yet to be built to the Roaring Fork School District to be used as part of its new teacher housing program.

Developers of the Ironbridge subdivision south of Glenwood Springs are offering up six unbuilt townhouse units to the Roaring Fork School District to become part of the district's new teacher housing program.

The RFSD school board Wednesday signed a letter of interest in purchasing the units, using some of the $15 million set aside for teacher housing as part of a larger bond issue approved by voters last fall.

The townhouses are to be built in three duplex structures on a recently acquired piece of land just outside the long-approved and mostly built-out golf course residential development.

Blue Heron Development Corp., which owns Ironbridge, is in the preliminary stages of seeking approvals from Garfield County to build the new units.

It also plans to ask for permission to have the units qualify as part of the development's affordable housing obligation, according to Jim Light, one of the development partners.

"We have offered a very desirable site within Ironbridge and a plan for livable housing at very attractive costs, which would be expected to help the school district attract teachers who are either single or who have families," Light wrote in a memo to the school board for its consideration.

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A key selling point is also the proximity of Ironbridge to the planned new Eastbank elementary and middle school that's also part of the $122 million bond package.

The size and price of the units would need to be negotiated. But the initial estimate is that six townhomes of about 900 to 950 square feet each with two bedrooms and one-and-a-half baths could be sold to the district for around $225,000 to $240,000 each. Construction at the development, which has had soil stability problems, requires reinforced foundations.

District officials have indicated that they may prefer slightly larger units of around 1,050 to 1,150 square feet, including some with three bedrooms and two full baths.

Shannon Pelland, chief financial officer for the district, indicated at the Wednesday meeting that the district has been approached by several Glenwood Springs-area developers regarding other potential partnerships to build rental housing for teachers.

If the Ironbridge deal goes forward, the six units would become part of the 15 to 20 total rental units the district hopes to make available to teachers in the Glenwood area.

The district intends the split the $15 million for acquisition or construction of housing units evenly among Glenwood, Carbondale and Basalt. It is also in negotiations with developers of the Willits subdivision in Basalt to acquire 14 rental units that are under construction there.

The Ironbridge deal hinges on gaining approval from the Garfield County commissioners and the Garfield County Housing Authority to have the units qualify as part of the development's affordable housing obligation that was part of the original PUD approvals.

"We are asking the county and the housing authority to think a little bit outside the box on this," Karl Hanlon, attorney for Blue Heron Development, said at the school board meeting.

The county's affordable housing regulations require such units be deed-restricted with appreciation caps and resident-owner requirements, and to be marketed through the housing authority for purchase by households earning a certain income.

"A partnership with the school district is our first choice for those units," Hanlon said.

RFSD Superintendent Diana Sirko said it also makes sense to partner with developers of existing projects to obtain teacher housing, as opposed to the district acquiring land and building its own units.

"This proposal has many exciting features, and it bears us looking at it very seriously," she said.

The proposal regarding designation of the units for affordable housing purposes is slated to be heard by the county commissioners on March 21.