Guest opinion: Midland project is affordable, convenient | PostIndependent.com

Guest opinion: Midland project is affordable, convenient

Craig Helm

Craig Helm

I have lived in the valley for over 40 years, and my wife and I chose to raise our family in Glenwood Springs because it is a vibrant town and a wonderful place to live, work and play. However, over the past several years we have seen teachers, nurses, police officers and other vital community members move downvalley or leave the community altogether because they were unable find suitable, affordable housing.

Today the cost of housing in Glenwood Springs is 228 percent of the national average, and the population is predicted to double throughout the region over the next 25 years.

The city’s own recent survey highlighted affordable housing as the city’s No. 1 issue. After comment on our initial Midland Avenue proposal before City Council, we adapted our proposal to reflect councilors’ desire to see more affordable housing. The proposal we will present on Dec. 15 is centered on four ideas: 1) affordability, 2) compact, efficient design that includes all modern amenities, 3) top quality construction and 4) location in town with good access upvalley and to the primary bus terminal.

While I do not have the space in this article to delve into the design details, I would like to touch on a couple of key points.

First: Affordability, according to Garfield County Housing Authority numbers, our combined rent and utility projections are affordable for people earning between 90 percent and 100 percent of the area median income. This meets the Housing Authority definition of affordable housing. The way we are able to reach this level of affordability while maintaining the highest quality, modern, quiet and comfortable environment is through the combination of compact size and relative density.

Second: Location and site amenities. The development at 2225 Midland is a half-mile — a 10-minute walk according to Google Maps — to the city’s main bus station on South Grand Avenue.

Upon completion of the 14th Street pedestrian bridge, it will be less than 1 mile from the majority of jobs and amenities, including the high school, hospital, both grocery stores and Wal-Mart. The site is 6 acres with the building positioned in the center back of the property, facilitating a massive buffer. The building will be softened by the planting of more than 100 trees and 1.6 acres of parkland dedication including a tennis court, volleyball court, picnic shelter and flat playing field are included in the proposal.

The majority of vehicles on Midland Avenue during peak hours are commuters from outside the city limits, passing through town, from downvalley or up Four Mile Road, and this traffic is totally outside of the city’s control.

Given the valley’s projected growth, we need to provide 2,885 units in Glenwood and many more upvalley by 2020 in order to catch up and keep up with housing demand, according to the city’s Strategic Housing Plan. Otherwise the number of commuters driving through town will continue to increase, particularly given the downvalley supply of affordable housing and the upvalley supply of jobs. Therefore, the best traffic solution is infill housing, which is a repeated theme in the City’s Comprehensive plan and a belief shared by all of the experts.

We feel that the development we are proposing meets needs identified by the city and county, and has the support of many professionals in the community. We are committed to building a high quality project, and we have sited the building and are providing recreation and green space to minimize the impacts on the neighborhood.

We are not asking for any subsidy or fee reductions — in fact we are offering to pay an additional $100,000 transportation project fee, which would help pay for the upcoming 27th Street bridge and intersection improvements.

Please visit http://www.MidlandAveLofts.com for more detailed information. After review of this information, I encourage the community to share their thoughts.

Craig Helm is a Glenwood Springs businessman whose Midland Lofts proposal is scheduled to go before City Council on Thursday.