Affordable houses in works

Group selling land, development plan to Housing Authority

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The Yampa Valley Housing Authority has land under contract in Steamboat Springs that would allow for its largest affordable housing project yet.

The proposed Elk River Village project, along Elk River Road on a 10.7-acre site between U.S. Highway 40 and the Copper Ridge Business Park, could accommodate as many as 33 single-family homes on the 4 acres of developable land. YVEA has entered into a contract to purchase the land from Elk River Investors LLC.

Last year, the project went through preliminary city planning as a private development. Mitch Clementson, an owner in Steamboat Real Estate, and his partners, Ron Mangus and Ryan Tape, proposed the development, but they are choosing to sell the land to the Housing Authority. Clementson said they could have profited more by developing the site, but he said they decided it would be in everyone's interest to sell the project to YVHA.

"It has been a long process, and we're very happy with the outcome of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority purchasing this," Clementson said.

"My sense is that this is a very generous offer to allow us to step in," Housing Authority board member Kathi Meyer said.

The Housing Authority will place deed restrictions on all of the homes that are built to ensure their affordability in the future, she said. The cost of building the development through the Housing Authority likely will be less expensive because of tax breaks the government entity is entitled to. It is too early to know what the units will cost, Meyer said.

The high-density residential development could be identical to Clementson's original development plan, which was going through a planned unit development process because the property is zoned commercial.

The modular homes they proposed would sit on foundations, would have two bedrooms and two baths and be less than 1,000 square feet.

"We were trying to keep this at an affordable level," Clementson said. "This is probably the cheapest you could build something, but it will still be nice."

The plan also called for a four-unit residential building, extensive landscaping and two open space tracts with an amenities building and playground.

Meyer and Clementson declined to say how much the land is under contract for, but Meyer said the Housing Authority would help finance the project with funds from a nearly completed affordable housing project in Steamboat.

The Elk River Village project is unique because buyers would own their homes and the land they sit on.

"It's creating another ownership opportunity that currently doesn't exist," Meyer said.

Obtaining land for affordable housing projects, especially in Steamboat Springs, has been one of the biggest challenges for the Housing Authority.

"It all starts with the land," Meyer said. "We are competing with private developers for the acquisition of land."

Meyer said the housing authority anticipates closing on the property in August and getting the project through city planning this fall. Construction could begin in the spring and be completed in 2007.

"The project accomplishes one of our stated goals," Meyer said. "We're doing what the community expects, and that is to create affordable housing."

Identifying the Housing Authority's next project comes as construction is being completed on Fox Creek Village. The project is the housing authority's largest project to date in terms of cost and size. Residents likely will start moving into the 30, two-bedroom condominium units by October.

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