Project benefits developer, not community

Editor:

I fail to understand how the town councils of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte, or the county authorities, can consider Gatesco’s proposal for “affordable” housing at the intersection of Hwy. 135 and Brush Creek a beneficial deal for anyone other than the developer. Based on the developer’s projected occupancies, this development will only help out, at most, 41 singles and six families, and at great cost to the towns of both Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte. Additionally, the remaining 120 “market rate” units will be leased to whoever, for terms as short as three months, and at unknown rents. In my opinion, this would create a transient community rather than a stable one. It seems to me that this development would facilitate a mass migration into the area without helping the existing community workers who so desperately need affordable housing. Th is mass migration, under the developer’s calculations, could allow up to an additional 336 children to move into the community, straining the schools and the high quality of education provided by the Crested Butte Community Schools. In addition, Mt. Crested Butte fi re, EMS, and police, will be expected to handle the 816 new residents. Neither town has the capacity to handle these impacts. Th is burden will ensure an increased cost to taxpayers to develop new classrooms, more fi re, EMS, and police services, as well as bus transportation for this “mini-town.” The towns of Crested Butte, Mt. Crested Butte, and Gunnison County have always vetted every project and project developer that crosses their desk with a deep level of commitment and fairness to try to maintain the charm and quality of life for the residents of both towns and the county. Let’s not allow the “Fast Track” approach by the county to this project to bypass normal due diligence and result in a development that falls far short of the Gunnison Valley Housing Needs Assessments findings and that violates the density and use rules of this site. Th is proposed project appears to benefit the developer more than the community. A deeper look at the real benefits of this proposed project is warranted, as well as a full vetting of the proposed developer’s qualifications as described in the Brush Creek Property Request for Proposal (RFP). I encourage the towns and Gunnison County to perform the same analysis I have. Gatesco currently manages the following properties in Houston, Texas: Presidio at Clear Lake, Brookdale Village, Quail Meadows, Magnolia Cove, Victoria Village, Bellfort Village, and Oak Glen Apartments. I encourage elected officials, decision makers, and all concerned in the community to look at the developer’s management and resident comments for the Gatesco properties above. We have been given a pretty proposal by Gatesco that promises affordable housing and a “Good Place to Land, Community, Connected, and Compatible.” Th is development does not off er those things. According to the developer’s own proposal and the GVHN Assessment, its affordability is very limited. In addition, the original RFP from the county indicated they wanted to see a “component of permanent affordability for community workforce,” meaning some homes that would be dedicated to purchase by the community. Th ere is not one “permanent, for purchase” home in this proposal. Th e entire project is rental. A 240-unit “mini-town” on 17 acres is not “compatible” with the surrounding neighborhoods or the Gunnison Valley in general. It is only “connected” through the use of a bus system that will cost the taxpayers additional money to support. It seems unlikely that with three month leases any sense of “community” can be achieved. Perhaps it’s a “good place to land”, but that implies to me a transient population, much like the “crash pads” from years ago. With no restrictions on the 120 market rental units, most of which are two and three bedrooms, occupancies of those units could far exceed the developer’s predictions, causing even more strain on our community than the analysis already provides. For example, there could be six adults in a three bedroom, rather than a family of two adults and four children. Is this really what we want or need for our community? I have a deep appreciation and understand and support the urgent need for affordable workforce housing across our entire country, including the Gunnison Valley. Unfortunately, the Gatesco proposal, in its present form, will not address this need in any significant measure. If the members of our town councils, county Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners carefully and completely examine this proposal keeping the best interests of the community at the forefront, I am confident they will turn down Gatesco’s proposal and avoid an enormous strain on the valley they are charged with protecting and enhancing. Th ere is no question that affordable workforce housing is needed in the valley, but it should be meaningful to the community it will serve, not to the developer it will profit.

Norman Eastwood, Crested Butte