Ironbridge affordable housing released from bankruptcy
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Four affordable housing units at the Ironbridge subdivision are back under contract, and an open house is planned for this Saturday to market eight additional units that have been tied up in bankruptcy for the past year.”It’s been a long wait,” said Brenda Buchanan of Carbondale, who plans to move into one of the deed-restricted Ironbridge units with her 12-year-old granddaughter, Grace, later this month.She and three other buyers who are scheduled to close this month, were among the original group of Garfield County Housing Authority Community Housing Program lottery winners for 10 of the 20 affordable housing units at Ironbridge, a golf course development five miles south of Glenwood Springs.The lottery took place in early September 2008, and many of the buyers had been scheduled to close on their new homes in February of last year.However, Ironbridge developer LB Rose Ranch LLC, a subsidiary of the bankrupt Lehman Brothers, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York that month, leaving the prospective buyers hanging and stalling final construction and sales of the additional affordable housing units.Most of the other lottery winners have since dropped out or found other housing options, but Buchanan decided to wait it out.”It’s going to be a little like Christmas when we finally get in there,” she said, adding she’s been buying furniture at thrift stores and keeping it in friends’ garages in the meantime.She even bought a new washer and dryer shortly after the housing lottery, but had to keep them on hold at the store. In the meantime, she and her granddaughter have been house-hopping, waiting for things to shake loose at Ironbridge.In the fall, the bankruptcy court finally released the 20 affordable housing units, which had been required by Garfield County as part of the larger Ironbridge development approval a number of years ago.In addition to the four units that are under contract, the Garfield County Community Housing Program will host an open house from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6, in anticipation of another upcoming lottery to select qualified buyers for eight more income-restricted units.The final eight units are also expected to be completed and ready for occupancy later this year, said Kathryn Grosscup, program director for the Garfield County Housing Authority.”We want these homes to be occupied as quickly as possible by qualified buyers, so that we don’t have a repeat of last year and have people who are left in limbo,” she said.The eight units that are now available are 1,427-square-foot, two-story, single-family homes with three bedrooms, two baths and a two-car garage, going for $230,000 to qualified buyers. Kitchen appliances are also included.Maximum household income for the units is $60,000 for one person, $68,520 for two people, $77,160 for three people, $85,680 for four people and $92,520 for a five-person household, according to program eligibility requirements.The maximum household asset limit is $100,000, and full-time residency and Garfield County employment requirements also apply.The deadline for applications for one of the Ironbridge units is 4 p.m. Feb. 12. A lottery is scheduled for noon Feb. 18 at the Garfield County Administrative Building, 108 Eighth St., Glenwood Springs. There will be another open house at Ironbridge on Feb. 20 for lottery winners to consider lot preference.Applications are available at http://www.garfieldhousing.com, or call 945-3072 for more information.Grosscup said she has no idea what kind of demand to expect, given the downturn in the housing market and tighter lending rules.”I will be curious to see how many people we get this time,” she said. “I have had a lot of phone calls, but we just don’t know until we start getting applications.”An $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time home buyers remains in place through this spring, which serves as one incentive for would-be buyers now, she said.Carbondale real estate agent Cindy Sadlowski, of Smotherman & Associates Real Estate, has also been working to try to keep some of the original buyers in the mix.”It’s been a long road to get back to where we could sell them,” she said. “It’s fun to see something finally coming to fruition.”Comparable-size houses in the Glenwood Springs/Carbondale area are still listed in the $400,000 range. So, at $230,000, the Ironbridge units are still well below market.”Interest rates are lower than they were a year ago, so it’s a real win-win right now for the people who qualify,” Sadlowski said.Meanwhile, LB Rose is still working through bankruptcy in order to proceed with construction and marketing of 100 free-market houses in the larger Ironbridge development, Tom Schmidt, a consultant working with the developer, said Monday.”It really depends on the market,” he said. “We have the ability to sell houses now, but the economy is still pretty weak.”The company skirted the initial Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in the fall of 2008, but eventually asked to be consolidated with that case. That caused concerns on the part of local housing officials that the deed restrictions imposed on the 20 affordable housing units could be in email@example.com
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