Our View: Modular subdivisions hold promise | SteamboatToday.com

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Our View: Modular subdivisions hold promise

It’s encouraging to see developers proposing Steamboat Springs neighborhoods featuring smaller, consistently designed modular homes.

Two such neighborhoods have been offered in the past two months. Copper Ridge subdivision, on Elk River Road, would feature 33 800-square-foot modulars and a building with four units. The Cotton Wood Acres subdivision, along the north bank of the Yampa River on Shield Drive, would feature 44 small homes.

We aren’t specifically endorsing either proposal. There are questions about location, home design and densities proposed that must be answered. However, we do think that such housing holds tremendous promise in terms of addressing the lack of affordable housing in the community.

The bottom-level price for a single-family home in Steamboat now exceeds $350,000, well out of the reach of most teachers, police officers, firefighters and other middle-class workers in the Yampa Valley. That price isn’t going down.

In Silver Spur, a neighborhood once envisioned as entry-level housing for middle-income workers, new housing is getting larger and values are exceeding $600,000. Even in West End Village, the city’s first true affordable housing project, the cost and size of housing have escalated beyond the reach of much of the population.

On June 29, the Yampa Valley Housing Authority will hold a lottery to determine who gets first dibs on the authority’s next project, the 30 townhomes planned for the Fox Creek subdivision. Such a lottery was used to determine order of preference for homes in West End Village. The lottery is the fairest method of selecting owners when demand exceeds supply, said Housing Authority President Kathi Meyer.

Copper Ridge and Cotton Wood Acres are examples of projects that potentially can help fill in that supply. Mitch Clementson, who is working with Ron Mangus and Ryan Tape on the Copper Ridge project, said the units likely will sell for less than $200,000. We would think the Cotton Wood Acres subdivision would be similarly priced.

There is no single-family housing in Steamboat below the $300,000 mark, much less below $200,000. Such housing would create ownership opportunities for a much broader range of working Steamboat families.

Much has been made of Steamboat’s loss of mobile home parks and how to replace that housing. We think proposals such as Copper Ridge and Cotton Wood Acres are the most sensible alternatives.

If Copper Ridge and Cotton Wood Acres become reality, the neighborhoods should have strict covenants requiring that the housing conform to specific design standards. We do not think such housing should be deed restricted.

We have long lamented the need for housing that allows Steamboat families to live close to where they work. As past efforts demonstrate, there are no easy solutions. But Copper Ridge and Cotton Wood Acres are intriguing proposals that, if they work out, could offer one of the biggest steps yet in addressing the problem.