School district pulls plug on affordable housing
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
A proposed affordable housing development in Carbondale isn’t economically viable in the near future, the Roaring Fork School District Board of Education decided last week.
The Community Partnership Development would have provided more than 100 cost-controlled units, including some earmarked for district staff, in the field between the Third Street Center and Carbondale Middle School. Originally proposed before the recession, the project still generated interest on both sides when the school district met with trustees late last year. With deadlines to extend approvals looming, however, the dream gave way to reality.
On Feb. 27, board President Daniel Biggs penned a letter to the Carbondale trustees.
“After receiving additional information from our developer, we do not believe we can overcome the financial challenges associated with a project of this magnitude within a time frame the town will find acceptable,” he wrote. “We hope at some point in the future we will be in the position to bring a new plan back to the town for consideration.”
According to Roaring Fork School District Chief Financial Officer Shannon Pelland, the first phase of the project would have cost around $5 million, a substantial sum for a district with some other pressing needs.
“The first thing we have to do is provide adequate schools for our students, and we have some pretty significant overcrowding issues,” Pelland said.
She emphasized that the district is still concerned about the issue.
“Affordable housing for staff is something that was absolutely identified in our strategic plan as a priority,” she said.
For now, that will probably take the form of smaller developments in areas with existing infrastructure. Long term, there may still be a possibility of something more robust.
“We’re not giving up on it,” she said. “If we can find some ways to solve the financial gap, I think they would absolutely be willing to look at it again.”
According to Carbondale Town Manager Jay Harrington, there’s nothing to stop the district from putting together a new plan for the Third Street property in the future, but they’d have to go through the process from scratch.
“Obviously, the need for affordable housing hasn’t gone away,” he said. “From the town’s perspective, if the project wasn’t going to be viable as designed, it makes sense to start over.”
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