Re-1 teacher housing survey postponed until spring |

Re-1 teacher housing survey postponed until spring

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Roaring Fork School District Re-1 officials will postpone a planned survey of district employees aimed at gauging interest in units at the planned teacher housing project in Carbondale until spring at the earliest.

Given the likelihood of more budget cuts next year, and armed with a new market analysis showing a glut of available residential properties in the market area, a survey doesn’t make sense at this time, school board members agreed at their Nov. 17 meeting.

In fact, job security may be a far bigger concern now than housing, Re-1 school board president Bob Johnson said.

“Any survey we do now would be jaded by people’s concern over whether they’re even going to have a job next year,” he said.

The district’s superintendent of business services, Shannon Pelland, agreed.

“As long as we keep talking about budget cuts, I don’t think we’re in a position to do a survey,” she said. “It’s better to wait until the confidence level goes back up.”

After earning development approvals from the town of Carbondale earlier this year for an affordable teacher housing project at the town’s former elementary/middle school campus, the school district wanted to do a survey to determine whether enough district employees are interested to proceed at this time.

Last summer, the district, working with development consultant Chuck Perry of Perry/Rose LLC architects, won zoning approvals from the town for the planned CES Partnership Village. The project would include up to 120 residential units to be built on about 11 acres of school property.

According to the development agreement, 80 percent of the units are to be deed-restricted in some way to make them more affordable to Re-1 teachers and staff, as well as other public-sector employees who may be interested.

The project has been envisioned for several years in order to help the school district hire and retain teachers who otherwise have a hard time affording long-term housing.

The survey, when it happens, will seek to gauge the degree of interest among district employees in buying or renting housing in the project.

“We want to come out of this survey knowing what types of units are desired, and what employees are willing to pay for them,” Pelland said at the start of the new school year.

However, since then the district hired Rees Consulting Inc. to do an analysis of the current housing market to determine demand and pricing for the residential units.

While there may still be some demand for townhomes and rental units, the market for single-family homes and duplexes is saturated, concluded Melanie Rees in an Oct. 28 report.

“The real estate market has not yet bottomed out,” she wrote in her report. “Prices have been crashing downward to levels that are similar to deed-restricted units and are continuing to fall.”

Still, “… there may be unmet demand at the low end of the price spectrum,” she wrote. “Demand for housing by district employees should be explored to determine if there is opportunity for the development of units not now available in the Carbondale area.”

The reported noted that, as of Oct. 22, there were a total of 858 residential units listed for sale through the MLS between Basalt and New Castle with a median price of $462,900. More units were also listed for sale in Carbondale than in Basalt, Glenwood Springs or New Castle.

“It also looks like you can buy a free market, single-family home in Glenwood Springs for less than a deed-restricted unit in Carbondale,” Perry observed during a telephone conference with the school board during the Nov. 17 meeting.

If construction were to proceed sometime next year, he recommended limiting the first phase to 32 units, including a mix of townhouses and possibly condominium or rental units.

The Re-1 district includes schools in Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs.