Our View: Park to test housing plan

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— Editor's note: The original version of this editorial incorrectly stated that the acquisition of Dream Island would help Green Courte Partners satisfy its affordable housing requirements for the River Walk, Alpenglow and Howelsen Place development projects. Green Courte is interested in purchasing Dream Island to help satisfy its affordable housing requirements for the River Walk development only. The editorial has been updated to include the accurate information.

Last week's news that Chicago-based Green Courte Partners is under contract to purchase Dream Island Mobile Home Park presents an interesting scenario for the city of Steamboat Springs and its relatively new affordable housing mandates for developers.

Green Courte Partners and local developer Jim Cook say the property would be used to provide deed-restricted affordable housing and, importantly, to help them satisfy the affordable housing requirements mandated by city ordinance for the River Walk development in downtown Steamboat.

An inclusionary zoning and linkage ordinance passed by the City Council in June 2007 requires that developers provide deed-restricted affordable housing as part of their projects.

It seems clear that the council's intent when passing the inclusionary zoning ordinance was to make developers provide an increased supply of affordable housing for Steamboat's work force. But Green Courte's proposal - and it's a clever one - would simply take existing stock of relatively affordable housing and ensure that it remains in place. When the city adopted the inclusionary zoning ordinance last year, it didn't include a "no net loss" provision that would have set requirements for providing new affordable housing on top of those units replaced in a redevelopment project such as Dream Island.

Green Courte's purchase and its impact on the community is complex for a number of reasons, including the benefits such a purchase could have on the existing residents of Dream Island despite the failure to actually create new affordable units. Cook says Green Courte is interested in pursuing ways to allow current Dream Island residents to become owners instead of renters - but it's unclear whether that means the land on which their homes sit, or just the homes themselves.

Green Courte also plans significant upgrades for the eclectic mobile home community, including improved roads, landscaping, lighting and tighter oversight of neighborhood covenants, all of which are needed. There's even a possibility Green Courte would gradually replace Dream Island's older homes with new ones and give the current residents the first opportunity to buy them. Other scenarios being considered by Green Courte include offering owners 99-year leases on their lots.

The Dream Island discussion is incomplete without noting other possibilities for Dream Island.

With its riverfront location and close proximity to downtown Steamboat, Dream Island is a prime chunk of real estate in a growing resort community. The current owners of Dream Island, Colorado Real Estate Investment Co., admit they've been shopping the mobile home park to potential purchasers. It was therefore quite possible for a developer with no interest in preserving affordable housing on site to redevelop the property, although potential hurdles to such a move include the site's floodplain location and the existing zoning of the neighborhood.

We've said before that it's easier to hold on to the community housing we already have than it is to create new affordable housing. In that regard, Green Courte's purchase has the potential to keep Dream Island a neighborhood for working-class residents, albeit with some needed improvements along the way.

But the city's affordable housing ordinances were geared toward making developers create new affordable housing, and not necessarily convert existing affordable housing into, well, affordable housing. As we approach the one-year anniversary of the passage of the inclusionary zoning ordinance, Green Courte's purchase provides the impetus for City Council to review its affordable housing ordinance and revisit issues such as whether those ordinances should include a "no net loss" provision.

Comments

Steve Lewis 5 years, 11 months ago

Alpenglow and Howelsen Place were approved with affordable housing promises made. Backing out of those promises months later as the projects are going onto the market should not be allowed, period.

I cannot go back and change my Planning Commission vote approving your project. Likewise you cannot change what you promised us. Its a contract, Jim Cook. Deliver what you promised. -Steve Lewis Planning Commissioner 4/2005-3/2008

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vanguy 5 years, 11 months ago

A few facts for clarification:

Alpenglow and Howelsen Place were approved developments before any affordable housing linkage / inclusionary zoning ordinance existed in Steamboat Springs.

Neither of these two projects have anything to do with Dream Island.

Howelsen Place includes several deed restricted condos, and Alpen Glow has is rumored to have some employee housing apartments on site.

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housepoor 5 years, 11 months ago

Mr Cook who at first appeared to be the fox is showing that he has truely been the wolf all along http://fairytales4u.com/story/wolfand.htm

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 11 months ago

As far as I can determine, the article is proving innaccurate in regard to Cook using Dream Island to satisfy his Howelson Place and Alpenglow affordable housing obligations. River Walk's affordable housing obligation has not yet been created, as no apllication has been submitted.

The past No-Net-Loss conversation stopped short of any ordinance. The Base Area Redevelopment Coalition was adamantly opposed to No-Net-Loss (NNL).

There was a wide array of percentage options in taking on a NNL responsibility, and yes anything seeking 100% NNL would have been asking too much. A compromise would have been good but many at the table said NNL would never be needed. The only target would be low end condos and it would be impossible for a developer to buy out everyone.

Dream Island was felt to be isolated from the need for No-Net-Loss because it was zoned Mobile Home, and seemed to be immune to development. So easy to underestimate the bold steps that profit empowers.

This will bear watching. It could go well for the current Dream Island mobile home owners. Easier said than done. Jim Cook and his Chicago partners are buying themselves a very, very large obligation to this community. -Steve Lewis

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spukomy 5 years, 11 months ago

Most people get into mobile homes for financial reasons. The homes are viewed by banks as autos and the term of the loan is usually 5 years. Many of DI's residents are living without a motgage.

If Jim Cook redevelopes DI the 10 easternmost homes and the first 12ish on the west side of the brick building will have to go away since they are in a flood way. There goes 20 or so of 86 homes.

Then he will have to conform the park to minimum area requirements to satisfy the city's code. There goes lots more homes.

In the end, if you are chosen to stay, you can buy a new home from him. Of course the lot rent will be jacked to pay for the redevelopement and to make up for the lack of homes in the pool. And you now have a mortgage. Then there's the deed restriction that you didn't want, that is forced on you.

I guess this is Jim Cooks way of helping the working class of this town.

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rsssco 5 years, 11 months ago

I noticed this on the front page of today's print version of the paper and see that the editorial has been modified above.

C O R R E C T I O N Green Courte Partners' acquisition of Dream Island Mobile Home Park would help the development group satisfy its affordable housing requirements for the River Walk development. An editorial on page 4A of Sunday's Steamboat Pilot & Today incorrectly reported the acquisition also would help satisfy the affordable housing requirements for the Alpenglow and Howelsen Place developments.

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