Habitat eyes selling land in Carbondale for housing project in Basalt | AspenTimes.com

Habitat eyes selling land in Carbondale for housing project in Basalt

Scott Gilbert, president of Habitat For Humanity Roaring Fork, stands above the site of 14 duplexes the chapter wants to build on land owned by Roaring Fork School District near Basalt High School.
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times |

Habitat For Humanity Roaring Fork officials believe they have found a creative way to build a Basalt project that will house teachers and other local workers.

The local chapter of the nonprofit organization intends to sell six vacant lots it owns in the Keator Grover subdivision in Carbondale, according to President Scott Gilbert. That would raise an estimated $85,000 per lot for a total of $510,000.

The money would help Habitat pursue a team effort with the Roaring Fork School District on an affordable housing project behind Basalt High School. The school district would supply the property while Habitat would raise the funds for construction.

The Basalt development plan was pared down after an analysis of the soils and topography of the area. As it stands now, 13 or 14 duplexes would be construct for 26 to 28 units, Gilbert said.

At least half of the project would be for teachers, under the discussions Habitat has had with the school district. The other units would be available to local families under Habitat’s usual criteria.

More bang for buck

Habitat has already developed five lots at Keator Grove and recently started construction of a sixth single-family house. The project has been a success, Gilbert said, but the homes are expensive to build at Keator Grove.

“We can do more with the money we have,” he said.

The lots were purchased for $25,000 each. The average sale price for the houses at Keator Grove was under $250,000, though each of the three-bedroom units with a garage was appraised at more than $500,000.

Gilbert said Habitat can build the Basalt duplexes “without losing a bunch of money.”

He gauged the probability of pursuing the Basalt project at about 80 percent. Its fate depends on raising additional donations and securing low-interest loans, he said.

“This is a big head start,” Gilbert said of the $510,000 from the sale of the Keator Grove lots. “Right now it’s looking good.

“To start digging, we need another $1 million in donations and loans,” he added.

Affordable for teachers

The goal is to offer the Basalt duplexes for between $275,000 and $300,000.

“Most teachers could qualify,” Gilbert said.

The project, like Keator Grove, is a perfect example of how Habitat is helping the struggling portion of the middle class. In the Roaring Fork Valley, working families have trouble finding attainable housing. The local Habitat chapter’s approach has evolved to help families that aren’t necessarily battling poverty, but struggling to get a foothold in the tough housing market.

The Basalt units will be affordable because the land is free. The infrastructure cost is estimated at $55,000 per residence. High land costs are often the hurdle to building affordable housing, Gilbert said.

Labor is cheaper because so many volunteers help and the homeowners put in sweat equity. Materials are donated or discounted.

Habitat sells the homes for what the residents can afford. It typically tries to help residents secure a loan with a maximum of 28 percent of their gross monthly income going to mortgage, interest, property taxes and house insurance.

“It can’t be what’s affordable to us, it’s what’s affordable to them,” Gilbert said.

He hopes to know by the end of the summer if Habitat will pursue the project.


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