Developer crunching numbers for housing at Carbondale Elementary site |

Developer crunching numbers for housing at Carbondale Elementary site

John Colson
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE ” School officials are not saying who it is yet, but a developer is “crunching the numbers” regarding development of an affordable housing neighborhood on the Carbondale Elementary School site, according to the planner who has handled the project so far.

Carbondale planning consultant Bob Schultz said Wednesday that the district has selected two potential development teams for the project, which could produce up to 89 homes for school district employees, Carbondale town workers and others.

One of those teams has conducted site reviews with local officials and is analyzing the proposal to see if the number and conceptual pricing of the homes is realistic, while the other team waits for its chance to do the same thing if the first team cannot do the project.

Schultz and Roaring Fork Superintendent Judy Haptonstall declined to release the name of either development contractor until a contract is formally signed and accepted by the district. Haptonstall said Thursday that the district is hoping to sign a contract with one firm or the other by the end of January or early February.

“Now is the time where the developer is doing the numbers crunching to make sure they can deliver those prices,” Schultz explained, adding that the 89-unit estimate is “based on pretty crude layouts.” He said it may turn out that the optimum number of homes is closer to 76 units on the 15-acre site.

He explained that the district is hoping that, with ownership of the land thrown into the mix, the homes can be “affordable in terms of what the district’s employees are paid.”

The district has owned the CES site for about 30 years, and Haptonstall offered assurances that “it’s not like we’re going to mush as many in there as possible.” She said the goal is to make the project attractive to prospective residents “so they’ll say, ‘I’d like to live there.'”

Schultz said he has not been told the exact per-unit price the district is hoping to achieve, adding, “I’m not even sure they have it.”

The school district and the Town of Carbondale have been negotiating a complicated land swap involving property owned by the different entities ” the CES site, and a parcel of city-owned land adjacent to the new Roaring Fork High School facility that the district wants to use.

Public information meetings held last year by the town brought out some objections to the proposed project from its immediate neighbors, mostly having to do with the potential for increased traffic in the area and the feeling that adding that many homes to an already high-density neighborhood would lead to overcrowding and a cramped feeling for the residents.

Haptonstall said one of the goals of the district is to hire a developer that “works with all community groups and really listens to everybody and holds lots of public meetings” to hear neighbors’ concerns.

Back at school

In the meantime, she said, the district has moved Bridges High School classes into the old elementary school’s vacant “long hall” section, while work continues on the old Roaring Fork High School building.

The Carbondale Middle School was originally to have moved into the old Roaring Fork High School building in the fall of 2007, when the new Roaring Fork High School was opened, but the unexpected discovery of asbestos in the old high school building has delayed the shift. Bridges, which is known as a “nontraditional” four-year high school, was to move into the middle school building.

Haptonstall said that the asbestos has been removed from the old high school building, but that there have been delays in getting new sprinklers installed, which has contributed to the delay and made it difficult for classes to continue in the old high school building.

All of the students should be in their proper new quarters as of the opening of the 2008-09 school year in September, she said.

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