Steamboat Springs West End Village has been a sort of Promise Land for the middle-income and below brackets in Routt County as they search for a housing solution in Steamboat's sky-high real estate market.
Offering 24 single-family homes, seven duplexes and the potential of 26 multi-family units, West End Village is Steamboat's first deed restricted affordable housing project. And residents, some for two years, have been waiting for a chance to live there.
Janet Webb's story is similar to the many others in Steamboat who have bought homes in Hayden or Oak Creek were housing is still in the "affordable" $100,000 to $200,000 price range. But like others, Webb, who works in the accounting department for the Steamboat Springs Area School District, would like to live in Steamboat.
"I'm a single person. I can't afford to build or buy (in Steamboat)," Webb said. "(West End Village) would certainly make things easier in the regards that I wouldn't have to drive 25 miles to work every day. I could ride my bike to work and my friends and family are closer to me."
On Tuesday during the Housing Expo, the Regional Affordable Living Foundation will let Webb and the 144 applicants know where they stand in owning a piece of West End Village. Applicants for the project had to live and work in Routt County and fall below 120 percent of the current median income, which would be $73,800 for a family of four.
RALF conceptualized the West End Village project, took it through the city for approval and facilitates the development.
After two years of collecting applications from interested households, RALF will take the names and randomly assign them priority numbers. And, based on priority, households will get to choose what lot they want.
"It has been difficult. It's really kind of a balancing act. I want to wait to get in but there's going to be 200 people and only about 30 houses," Webb said. "I'm waiting, but I have other ideas if I don't get it."
RALF Executive Director Rob Dick said chances of getting into the West End development are much higher than those odds of 57 living units and 145 households.
"What we know is that only one-third of the interested parties go through with the whole process. (Only a third) still need a house or still qualify for a house. Even though there are a lot of interested people, it doesn't mean all the interest is serious," Dick said.
One of the names crossed off the list will be Chris Mraz, who has already bought a home in Oak Creek. Mraz was one of the 11 people who were displaced out of the Trailer Haven mobile home park when the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Association bought the land for tennis courts.
His name has been on the West End Village list for a year and a half soon after he found out he had to move from Trailer Haven. But Mraz said with an evacuation date of July 1, he had to find a place to live quickly.
"I was pretty optimistic that (West End Village) would happen. And a lot of what (was planned) is starting to happen," he said. "But big projects take time, and I just didn't have the time," he said.
Mraz's brother Christopher is still on the list and looking to own a piece of the pie in Steamboat, Mraz said.
Although applicants will find out Tuesday what their chances are of getting into West End Village, they most likely will not move in until next summer.
Mounds of dirt currently scatter the 30-acre West End Village site that was once a gravel pit. Tony Connell, whose is vice president of Connell Resources, said the company is laying the project's groundwork grading the land, putting in water and sewer lines and building sidewalks. Connell broke ground in May and expects to be done by the end of the fall.
After the West End Village development passed approval by the City Council in December 2000, it languished through 2001 as potential buyers failed to close on the property.
But Connell and his family business, Connell LLC, stepped up and offered to buy the land, do the excavation work and then sell the remaining houses. That put Connell at a high risk but cut out the middleman and saved RALF a chunk of change, Dick said.
"I thought it was a good project from day one," Connell said. "It benefits the community, it benefits the company."
When Connell's work is done, modular homes are expected to go on the lots next spring. With the help of Crystal Peak Combined, Dick said six different models for single-family homes will be built over the winter in a factory in Kansas.
The West End Village homes will mix the subsidized residencies, which range from $120,000 to $200,000, with homes that will sell at market prices. Connell will have 24 single-family homes and eight duplexes. Nine homes will also be sold at market prices that sit on an acre to half-acre lots and are in a limited development zone because of overhead airport traffic.
Although interspersing the homes would have been a good idea, Dick said the RALF lots were chosen based on which ones had the lowest construction costs.
Besides being the engine behind the project, RALF is finding ways to finance the affordable housing at West End Village. It is offering silent second mortgages on the land purchases, which would put $15,000 to $20,000 toward the price of the land and would not require repayment until the sale of the property.
And it will also secure low-interest 30-year loans. And for those with incomes at 100 or 80 percent of the area median income and first-time homebuyers, they could get a tax credit for 20 percent of the interest paid on the home mortgage.
And for some applicants, down payments on the houses could be assisted through loans and grant programs.
Three of the seven duplexes built will be part of the Habitat for Humanity program, which qualifies for even lower mortgages.
When the houses are sold, they will be deed restricted, which means they can only be sold to those whose incomes are 120 percent of the area median income at that time and live and work in Routt County.
But Dick said he didn't know if those houses when sold would be subject to pricing restrictions or sold at the current market rate.
Monday is the last day to submit applications for the West End Village project.