Next phase of Ironbridge housing approved
The next phase of housing at the Ironbridge golf course subdivision south of Glenwood Springs won approval from Garfield County commissioners Monday, clearing the way for the first significant new home building there since the project fell into bankruptcy seven years ago.
In addition to 35 single-family homes to be built under the approval granted Monday, another 26 lots are expected to be included in a follow-up filing with the county, for a total of 61 new homes.
With the exception of two spec homes and several previously-approved riverfront homesites that were developed last year, Ironbridge has seen little new home construction since the project fell into bankruptcy under its former ownership, Lehman Brothers subsidiary LB Rose Ranch LLC.
Recently, a group of existing Ironbridge homeowners won a $14 million award in a lawsuit filed against the previous owners and builders as a result of damage to their homes caused by settling. A judge is considering whether to uphold the award.
The new approvals granted Monday include conditions requiring site-specific foundation inspections and disclosure to buyers of the potential risks related to soils in the area that are prone to collapse.
Details still must also be worked out between the new developer, Blue Heron Properties, and the Garfield County Housing Authority related to six deed-restricted affordable housing units that are required when building resumes.
That requirement dates back to preliminary plan approvals granted for the project’s third phase in 2008, prior to the commissioners’ decision to suspend the county’s affordable housing regulations in the aftermath of the Great Recession of 2008.
Ironbridge is still on the hook to abide by the original agreements and provide 10 percent of the total number of units in the larger 316-unit subdivision in the form of deed-restricted, income-dependent affordable housing.
Among the details that still need to be worked out are the income categories to which the homes will be targeted when it comes time to offer them up for sale through the housing authority.
Housing Authority Director K.T. Gazunis explained that the original approvals contemplated units being marketed to buyers in three income categories — 80 percent, 100 percent and 120 percent of the area median income.
But at the time they were built it was nearly impossible for someone in the 80 percent category to qualify for a loan to buy even a deed-restricted unit, Gazunis said.
So the decision was made to market the first 24 affordable housing units at Ironbridge within the higher income categories.
“In my opinion this has been a very successful project, and I appreciate that,” Gazunis said. “But I would like to discuss whether we can try to vigorously market at that 80 percent AMI price point.”
Gazunis also shared concerns related to the size of the lots proposed for the designated affordable housing units, as well as expected homeowners and club membership dues for the owners of those homes.
Attorney Karl Hanlon, representing Blue Heron Properties, said those details can be discussed, but project officials didn’t want it to hold up the development approvals.
“We are willing to talk with the housing authority about how best to deliver that product,” Hanlon said, suggesting they have those discussions and report back in 90 days.
Commissioners agreed with that stipulation. Project partner John Young also suggested that the issue could be reviewed when the second filing is made for the additional 26 units.
Young and Roaring Fork Valley real estate partner Jim Light were the successful bidders two years ago in buying the remaining 111 undeveloped residential lots, golf course and club amenities at Ironbridge for $4.82 million.
The purchase also included seven built but at the time unoccupied affordable housing units. Those units were sold through the Garfield County Housing Authority within the first few months after the deal closed.
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