Garfield County, Rifle eye housing site
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
RIFLE, Colo. ” Garfield County and the city of Rifle are in preliminary talks about possible designation of a 30-acre piece of land in the southeastern part of the city as a site for an affordable housing development.
Rifle City Manager John Hier was reluctant to talk about the possible project on the property because of its preliminary nature. But he did say the city is in discussions with some groups – which he said include the county – about affordable housing on the property. The city has owned the piece of land for more than two decades.
“We had some preliminary meetings on it, but there is really nothing to report on it at this point,” Hier said. “City Council members have discussed the possibility of using it for affordable housing in the past. No decisions have been made.”
Garfield County Manager Ed Green was more talkative about the possible development. He said plans for the property could call for a mixed-use development that would include rentals, condos and townhomes and some single-family homes. There is the possibility of building up to 300 residential units on the property, Green said.
The county housing authority would administer the affordable housing properties, Green said. The Garfield School District Re-2 and the Grand River Hospital District could also be involved in the affordable housing program based upon their contributions to the project, he said.
Several developers from the Eastern Slope have shown an interest in the project, Green said. The preliminary costs for the project will not be known until the agencies involved talk to developers.
Green said he hopes a developer for the project is selected in the next year.
“I would like to see us get this project started in 2009,” Green said.
The current idea for affordable housing in Rifle is not a unique approach, Green said. The county has been trying to develop affordable housing projects for some time in the Roaring Fork Valley, but Green added the county hasn’t “been able to pull it all together” yet.
“I think this one has a much better chance of success because Rifle owns the land, and the land is the key issue,” Green said. “This is the most promising one and offers the biggest payoff.”
Re-2 Superintendent Gary Pack said his school district, along with the Grand River Hospital District, Garfield County and the city, have been looking at ways that “we can all collaborate together on some affordable housing.”
The agencies had conversations about affordable housing in some form over the last couple of years, but haven’t focused as hard on the issue until this year, Pack said. He said the school district hasn’t been in a meeting about designating the 30-acre parcel as a location for low-cost housing.
Still, Pack welcomed the possibility because the high cost of living and lack of affordable housing have made recruiting single, young teachers difficult, Pack said.
“Affordable housing is very necessary for us,” said Pack.
He said many of the housing options in the area have been taken by workers employed in the growing oil and gas industry in the area.
“Prices have escalated in housing and in rent. This (proposed affordable housing development) would be something that is really important to Garfield County and specifically to our school district,” he said.
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