Aspen foundation, partners pursue affordable housing in Rifle |

Aspen foundation, partners pursue affordable housing in Rifle

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colo. ” Plans to redevelop a 30-acre property in Rifle for an affordable-housing project that could boast more than 200 rentals, condos, townhomes and single-family homes are slowly coming into sharper focus.

Partners in the project are about a month away from giving their employees and others surveys to determine interest in the project and what kind of housing they would like to see, said Ed Green, Garfield County manager.

Garfield County, Rifle, the Grand Valley Hospital District, Garfield School District Re-2 and the Aspen Community Foundation are all partners in the project, aimed at providing affordable housing for workers.

“We’ve sort of formed a core group that is working pretty well together,” Green said.

Paul Menter, finance director for the Aspen Community Foundation and former finance director for the city of Aspen, said the future of the project depends on what the survey results show.

“The goal (here) is try to develop a project that fits well in the community that helps critical employees to find housing in the communities [where] they work,” Menter said.

Menter said the foundation just recently formed a new office in Glenwood Springs and that one of its major focuses right now is to help communities develop an affordable housing program that “works for them.” Assisting with the Rifle development is the foundation’s first attempt to do that, he said.

The partners behind the project have engineering work ongoing at the property to determine infrastructure needs and projected costs, Green said.

He added that all of the participants have made financial commitments to the project, although he declined to reveal the specifics.

The groups behind the affordable housing project have, Green said, also met with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs ” which offers financial assistance for various local government projects ” and that it is “very receptive to assisting with grant funds” for the project.

“We have a lot of resources,” Green said. “This is getting a lot of momentum.”

Green said the county and the other partners are looking to hire a developer for the project sometime this year. Infrastructure development at the property, which would include roads and sewer systems, would probably occur in 2009.

The partners hope that, by the end of 2009, developers will begin building residential units on the property and that some residences will be available for area workers by the spring of 2010.

Administration of the homes will probably be overseen by the Garfield County Housing Authority, Green said.

Green predicted it won’t be difficult to find a developer to build the affordable homes. He said many are already “lining up” to make proposals to the groups behind the project. A breakdown of how many free-market homes, if any, will be included in the project has yet to be determined.

“We don’t think it will be too tough to make it affordable,” Green said. “We have the money amassed for infrastructure improvements, and we already own the land. Those are key components.”