Carbondale trailer park eyed for affordable-housing project
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A 9-acre mobile home park up for sale on the outskirts of Carbondale could be the location of a new affordable-housing project.
The concept received the preliminary support from Garfield County commissioners, meeting in Glenwood Springs on Monday, though they had several questions about the project’s estimated cost to the county and about whether county zoning regulations would even allow it.
The Roaring Fork Community Development Corp. (RFCDC), a nonprofit subsidiary of Healthy Mountain Communities, is working to patch together different area governments and groups to purchase the Mountain Valley Mobile Home Park for an affordable-housing project. Already, the corporation has secured enough money to potentially put the property under contract, according to a memo from Colin Laird, director of both Healthy Mountain Communities and RFCDC.
The goal is to purchase the property and convert it into permanent deed-restricted affordable housing for as many of the current residents of the mobile home park as possible and preserve the units for Garfield County residents making 80 percent or less of the area’s median income, the memo said. The idea is to make it affordable either through subdivision and sale of the individual lots to current residents or in the form of long-term, appreciation-capped lot leases.
The owners of the mobile home park have had an offer of $7 million on the property, but they are interested in selling it for $6.5 million to a “buyer committed to preserving the affordability of the current units of the park,” the memo said. The mobile home park is located in unincorporated Garfield County, behind the Red Rock Diner in Carbondale. It currently contains 64 mobile homes, according to the memo.
John Cooley, who manages the mobile home park and is a part-owner, said the offer for the mobile home park contained short terms for the mobile home residents to leave the park. He said he then felt the owners of the park needed to do something so the residents wouldn’t be displaced.
“We did have a contract we could have gone ahead with,” said Cooley, adding if its residents must leave, they will not stay in Garfield County. “I am glad we didn’t. We had to come up with something to help the people.”
Laird spoke before the Garfield County commissioners on Monday to see whether the county would be interested in the project and might be willing to conditionally invest in it.
“I personally think this is a type of creative approach to sustaining (affordable housing) that is important for all of our communities and for the county to look at in the future,” Commissioner Tresi Houpt said.
Houpt added she would like to have clearer understanding of what level the county needs to support the proposed project through the Garfield County Housing Authority.
Commissioner John Martin said there were “too many unanswered” questions about the project, like whether the county’s current zoning regulations would even allow it and about how the proposed units would be sold.
Commissioner Larry McCown said he wanted to see some of the “logistics” of the project before he would be willing to commit to helping to fund it.
“The concept, I support it,” McCown said.
The Garfield County Housing Authority, the Colorado Department of Housing, private developers and local banks have expressed interest in the effort. The town of Carbondale has also “conceptually agreed to waive some fees and invest some cash into the affordability of the project,” according to Laird’s memo.
“Given the property’s zoning (commercial limited) it is unlikely to remain as a mobile home park after sale to a private developer,” according to the memo. “With redevelopment, Garfield County and the town of Carbondale will lose 64 de facto affordable housing units.”
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It’s hard to fight City Hall and even harder to fight well-funded neighbors who don’t want any development near them, a local man has realized. So he settled for less than what he and his partner bought the property for.