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Roaring Fork School District Re-1 to gauge current interest in teacher housing

With development approvals for an affordable teacher housing project in hand, the Roaring Fork School District Re-1 must now determine whether enough district employees are truly interested to proceed at this time.

The district will spend $24,000 on a market analysis, half of which will be for an initial survey of teachers and staff at Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and Basalt schools to gauge their degree of interest in buying a deed-restricted unit in the Carbondale-based housing project.

“That’s just to see if we have a project to move forward with,” Re-1 Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Shannon Pelland said at the Aug. 11 school board meeting.



If not, the rest of the analysis will likely be put on hold until that interest level increases.

The Carbondale Board of Trustees earlier this year approved zoning for the planned CES Partnership Village, which will allow up to 120 residential units to be built on about 11 acres of school property between what’s now the Third Street Center and the Bridges Center.



Eighty percent of those units are to be deed-restricted in some way to make them more affordable to Re-1 teachers and staff, as well as other public-sector employees.

The project is intended to help the school district hire and retain teachers, who otherwise often have a hard time staying with Re-1 due to the high cost of housing.

As teachers report for the new school year this coming week, they’ll receive a letter encouraging them to participate in the upcoming survey.

“They need to understand that this is an important survey to help us determine when and how to proceed,” school board member Myles Rovig said, noting that the return rate on past surveys has been rather low.

However, that’s not been the case whenever the district has asked about teacher housing in the past, Pelland said.

“We want to come out of this survey knowing what types of units are desired, and what employees are willing to pay for them,” she said.

School board President Bob Johnson said it needs to be emphasized that this is the first step for those who are truly interested, before entering into actual contracts.

The district, which is working with a Denver-based developer, intends to build the project in phases based on pre-sales of housing units.

“We need to be clear that this is something we’ve been working at for many years on their behalf, and to please participate in this important next step,” Johnson said.

Pelland said the cost to do the market analysis is somewhat more than she was expecting. But the survey piece is important for the district to know whether to proceed further.

The district has about $30,000 remaining in the capital budget for purposes of continuing with the housing project, she said. However, about that same amount will be coming back to the district as part of its share of a Colorado Department of Local Affairs that was obtained for the Third Street Center project.

That project involved turning the former elementary school building, which is now owned by the town of Carbondale, into a center for nonprofit organizations, artist studios and small businesses.

The town’s zoning revision also allowed 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. That project is also moving forward.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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