Re-1 teacher housing gets the approval
CARBONDALE, Colorado – Now that town trustees have put the zoning in place for the Roaring Fork School District Re-1 to build teacher housing on some of its former Carbondale school grounds, there’s much work ahead to make the project a reality, says Re-1 school board member Bill Lamont.
“Now the real work begins,” Lamont said after the Carbondale Board of Trustees voted 6-1 Tuesday night granting final zoning approval for the so-called CES Partnership Village, allowing up to 120 residential units on about 11 acres situated between the Third Street Center (former elementary school) and the Bridges Center (former middle school).
The school board and district officials began working with the school district’s developer representative, Chuck Perry, on Wednesday to come up with a timeline for the next steps.
That will include doing an updated market study, meeting with other financial partners in the project and seeking out additional partners, setting up focus groups with teachers who may be interested in housing, going after financing and moving toward construction, he said.
Part of the zoning revision was also to allow the school district to sell off a 13,000 square-foot piece of property at the corner of Sopris Avenue and Third Street to the Garfield County Public Library District for a new Carbondale branch library.
“Now that we have the town’s approvals, all of these other pieces need to start moving forward,” Lamont said.
“This is a very positive thing, both for the school district and the town,” he added. “It is helping us to help teachers be able to stay in the community and continue teaching.”
Eighty percent of the units in the project will be deed-restricted with prices targeted for teachers and other school district employees, while the others will be sold on the free market to help offset development costs. A secondary priority for the affordable housing units will be given to other public sector employees in the area.
While 25 percent of the deed-restricted units built in each of the three phases of development will be offered first to school district personnel already living in Carbondale or working in Carbondale schools, the housing is intended to serve all Re-1 school employees. The Re-1 district oversees public schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt.
Carbondale Trustee Ed Cortez, in voting to approve the project, said the town needs to think more regionally when it comes to housing teachers and other critical workers.
“The point of this is the quality of education we want for our kids,” he said.
Trustee Pam Zentmyer, who voted against the project, was frustrated that school district officials couldn’t be specific about buyer income categories, pricing and square footage for the affordable housing units, especially since the town agreed to waive more than $900,000 in various impacts fees and taxes for the project.
But those details will be worked out in a set of follow-up housing guidelines, which the school district will work with the town and Garfield County housing officials to determine.
“We can’t make the commitment to the categories or the pricing, because we need to let the market based on our buyers determine that,” Perry said at the meeting. “If we set a category and the people can’t qualify, we can’t sell the units to the people we want to sell them to.”
Trustee John Foulkrod agreed. “The intent is to house Re-1 employees. If they can’t make it work, they’ve screwed up their own deal.”
“We appreciate the town’s support, because this was a unique project for them to consider,” Lamont added afterwards. “There’s not a lot of precedent for something like this, and the uniqueness sometimes got lost in the shuffle.”
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