Expansion eyed at El Jebel Mobile Home Park
A family with a long history of providing free-market, affordable housing in El Jebel has applied to Eagle County to add 46 residences.
Crawford Properties LLC wants to expand the 298-unit El Jebel Mobile Home Park with 46 modular homes. The two- and three-bedroom residences all will be rentals, said Robert Hubbell, president and CEO of the corporation.
“The pressure on rental housing is enormous,” Hubbell said. His company’s office receives one or two inquiries per day about rentals, he said. Openings in their existing units come few and far between.
His company decided to advance the proposal for expansion now because of that “flood of requests for housing.”
“We’re absolutely inundated,” he said.
Six of the homes would be deed-restricted as affordable housing to meet Eagle County’s code. The rents on the 40 free market units will also be set using the Area Median Income for a household in Eagle County and applying 30 percent to rent. Using that figure, the three bedroom units will rent for about $2,100 per month, Hubbell said. They will charge a total of roughly $2,241 per month to cover utilities and garbage service, he said.
By restricting their rents on the free market units, the Crawfords will be leaving income on the table, Hubbell acknowledged, but their goal is to keep housing affordable in the heart of El Jebel.
“We’re just doing it ethically,” Hubbell said. “We really think affordability is necessary. It’s not just a catch phrase.”
He said Basalt and the Rural Fire Protection District is interested in leasing five units for employees.
Modular homes eyed
The residences they are considering are modular homes that more closely resemble stick-built construction than what is considered a trailer house. Hubbell said they looked at Eagle County’s Miller Ranch affordable-housing project in Edwards and the development at Dotsero along Interstate 70 for guidance. The homes have front porches and the neighborhoods are designed to encourage foot traffic, he said.
The homes will be designed, produced and installed by the home manufacturer to meet Energy Star requirements for energy efficiency, the application said.
The site for the 46 new units is an island of vacant land encircled by development. It is bounded by the El Jebel baseball field to the east, existing mobile homes to the north and El Jebowl bowling alley and Eagle Crest Nursery to the south. A handful of homes are proposed on a finger of property alongside the Eagle County public works building.
The existing 298-unit mobile home park covers 114.5 acres. The new development would be located on 13.6 acres.
The site encompasses the former dirt parking lot leased by Roaring Fork Transportation Authority. The new homes will be within walking distance of a site the Roaring Fork School District has reserved for a new elementary school, the application said. Hubbell noted the houses would be as close as a quarter mile and no further than a half mile from the El Jebel bus-rapid-transit station on Highway 82. New trails will be tied into existing trails to boost walkability of the area.
Word is out
Demand is already building for the project, even though the public review hasn’t even started.
“Crawford Properties LLC started a waiting list in December 2015, and currently have a list of 46 people,” the project application said. “It is mostly families looking for anything available, but more for rent than for sale.”
Eagle County’s planning staff is reviewing the application for thoroughness. No hearing has been scheduled yet by the Roaring Fork Valley Regional Planning Commission. That board will make a recommendation to the Eagle County commissioners, who also will review the project.
Crawford Properties also owns much of the commercial core of El Jebel and other vacant land. There are no pending applications for other development, Hubbell said.
The Crawfords’ history of providing affordable housing dates back to the early 1960s. Floyd and June Crawford brought in a few trailers to their ranch to supplement their income. More trailers were added to house construction workers on Ruedi Reservoir and the affiliated diversion system. During the 1970s and ’80s, the unincorporated area evolved into a haven for workers searching for affordable housing.
Three members of the Crawford family bought out and acquired interests of multiple other family members in 2013 in what was called an amicable consolidation.
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Kevin Warner started his career with the U.S. Forest Service as a wilderness ranger in 2001. Now he’s taking over the key position as Aspen-Sopris District Ranger.