School district inks deals for 23 teacher housing units | AspenTimes.com

School district inks deals for 23 teacher housing units

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

An architectural rendering of the next phase of housing at the Willits subdivision in Basalt where the Roaring Fork School District has contracted to buy 17 units for its teacher housing program.

Roaring Fork School District officials have finalized plans to buy 23 housing units for about $6.5 million as part of the district's new teacher-housing program.

The deals include 17 units at the Willits development in Basalt and six units at the Ironbridge subdivision south of Glenwood Springs.

Both contracts have been in the works since shortly after district voters last fall approved a $122 million bond issue for new school facilities and building upgrades in Glenwood, Carbondale and Basalt.

The bond package also included $15 million to start an affordable rental-housing program for district teachers and staff.

The bond package also included $15 million to start an affordable rental housing program for district teachers and staff.

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Under the deal, $5 million is to be spent in each of the three communities to acquire or develop housing that can then be rented to district employees, primarily in an effort to attract and retain teachers.

The Willits and Ironbridge homes are expected to be built and ready by next August, said Jeff Gatlin, chief operating officer for the school district.

In the meantime, the district is refining its housing program guidelines to determine which employees will qualify for the units and to set rents.

The Willits deal calls for a mix of housing sizes, including seven one-bedroom units, six with two bedrooms and four units with three bedrooms. The units will range in size from 782 square feet for the smaller apartments and up to 1,285 square feet for the larger units.

The initial contract is for $4.8 million, Gatlin said. But it also includes an inflation factor that could take it to $5 million by time the units are built, he said.

"We really feel like this will be a good location, and the amenities around Willits are desirable for our staff," Gatlin said. "Basalt being a particularly difficult market, we are excited to have those units for our staff."

Meanwhile, the $1.86 million Ironbridge deal is to include four two-bedroom units at 1,232 square feet and two three-bedroom units at 1,166 square feet, he said.

The Ironbridge offer came about in the spring when developers of the larger golf course and residential subdivision went to Garfield County seeking to amend a requirement to provide affordable deed-restricted units to be sold to qualified buyers.

County commissioners ultimately granted the right for Ironbridge to build and sell those units instead to the school district for its housing program. Even though they will be offered as rentals by the district, the houses will be deed-restricted with a 3 percent annual appreciation cap, Gatlin explained.

"The affordability in terms of rent is left up to us to determine through our guidelines," he said. "We will be working through our own internal pro formas to find a model that will work for our staff."

One other possible deal to provide another dozen teacher housing units in Glenwood Springs is the subject of a continued public hearing before Glenwood City Council next week.

Developers of the larger Silver Sage project, south of the Four Mile and Airport roads intersection, are asking for permission to sell three of the five planned multifamily buildings in the Cardiff Mesa section of the development to the school district.

Also, the school district has begun seeking qualified architects to come up with a new plan for teacher-housing units to be built on district-owned land along Third Street in Carbondale. An earlier residential development plan for that site never took off.

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