Steamboat Springs Italy is much different than Colorado. Though they are about the same size, Italy has 57 million people, while Colorado has about 6 million.
"There is no land there," said Lynne Erspamer, who lived in Italy for 15 years and will soon live at Steamboat's affordable housing subdivision, West End Village.
Half of the subdivision -- 24 single-family homes and 10 duplexes -- was reserved for deed-restricted, affordable housing for income-eligible residents. The other 38 lots in the subdivision -- 32 single family and six duplexes -- have no restrictions and were available on the free market.
All of the deed-restricted lots have been sold and several of the single-family and duplex homes are finished or near completion. The Regional Affordable Living Foundation identified the buyers and Realtors Peggy Garrett and Karen Beauvais represented the families in the home purchase. Of the free-market lots, only 11 have not been sold. Norbert Turek of El River Realty is listing the free-market homes for developer Connell LLC.
Erspamer and her husband, Massimo Erspamer, met in Italy and enjoyed it there, but Lynne said she realized there were more opportunities for their two young boys in the United States.
"Italy has gone through so many changes, they don't encourage you to think differently," Lynne Erspamer said. "They don't want you to break out of the box."
Erspamer has family in Colorado, and she said she always wanted to live in Steamboat Springs, despite the high costs of real estate.
When the couple moved to Steamboat in June 2001, they planned on renting for a couple of years until they could save enough money for a downpayment on a house. Then, they found out about West End Village and jumped at the opportunity.
So many people were interested in the affordable housing development that a lottery had
to be held last summer to determine right who had first dibs on the 44 affordable units. Out of nearly 200 families involved in the drawing, the Erspamers drew No. 62. About a month after the drawing, Lynne said, the family learned it would have a shot at one of the affordable homes.
Lynne works at Pisa's Restaurant and also operates a language center at Colorado Mountain College where she teaches Italian. Massimo is a maintenance technician for Steamboat Resorts. She said if it weren't for West End Village, the couple would still be renting, and would have paid about $50,000 more than the $270,000 they are paying for their West End Village home.
Next Saturday, the Erspamers will move into their new 1,400-square-foot home that includes an additional 700 square feet in an unfinished basement. Lynne said she can't wait. All of the deed-restricted homes in West End Village are modulars built by Heritage Homes of Nebraska. David Combs is the contractor for the deed-restricted homes.
The RALF lots in West End Village were offered at $65,000, with the exception of two Habitat for Humanity lots, which went for $50,000 each, Turek said. The free-market lots sold for between $75,000 and $109,000. Of the 11 free-market lots that have not sold, three are priced at $75,000. The rest are between $85,000 and $95,000 with one lot -- which is on a ridge and offers the best views in the subdivision -- is $109,000. The more expensive lots allow for homes up to 2,500 square feet. The $109,000 lot allows for a 3,500-square-foot home. "If you've looked at what else is on the lot and within city limits, only a couple of lots are within this price range," Turek said. "You would have to go to Hayden or Oak Creek for comparable prices."
Almost 75 percent of the lots in West End Village sold in four months, Turek said. "It has been a pretty busy summer for us," Turek said.