Local developer leaving West End Village project


— A local developer who has made a point of promoting private affordable housing solutions appears to be leaving one such project.
Ellen Hoj, assistant executive director of the Regional Affordable Living Foundation, confirmed Thursday that developer Steve Cavanagh has asked RALF to "buy him out" of the West End Village project.
"Steve told us he'd give us a letter that would say he would be unable to carry through on his commitment to West End Village because of his involvement in a ranch project," Hoj said.
Cavanagh told Steamboat Today he does not want to comment on the matter.
RALF is a nonprofit group dedicated to finding low-cost housing for Routt County residents.
In a public meeting Thursday, RALF executive director Rob Dick told board members that Cavanagh said he could still buy the 30 acres needed for the project but wouldn't have enough cash to develop it right away.
"He'd just as soon get out of the deal," Dick told RALF board members.
RALF had planned on Cavanagh to put up the $675,000 to purchase the land by Jan. 31. RALF would then buy half of the land on which to build affordable housing. Cavanagh was going to develop his portion of the land at market value, Dick said.
As planned, West End Village would have 75 lots that would hold 178 housing units. The housing includes single-family homes, duplexes, multifamily housing and caretaker units.
But now Cavanagh not only wants out of the deal, Hoj said, he reportedly wants RALF to pay for the engineering tests he has already done, which cost about $50,000 to $75,000.
Dick said RALF needs these tests to determine how much it would cost to develop the neighborhood with affordable housing. "His role and responsibility in this venture was to pay for engineering to determine this. Our job is to provide affordable housing. It's difficult for us to take major financial risks."
RALF board members said they were stunned by Cavanagh's pull-out from the much-publicized housing development project that would mix affordable homes and with market-value houses.
"I'm very disappointed," said RALF board member and architect Katie Kiefer.
"Still, I believe we have a number of opportunities and it will be a successful project in the end."
Dick said he already is lining up possible partners including the United States Department of Agriculture and the Colorado Housing Finance Authority, as well as private developers.
Dick told board members that Cavanagh's pulling out of the project could be good in the long run because RALF may eventually own all the property and not just half of it.
In the meantime, RALF will go ahead with its plans next week to present the city Planning Commission with details of the West End Village project.
"This community needs affordable housing, and we're committed to seeing it to reality," Meyer said.


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