Rent-a-geddon? There is an alternative

Dear Editor:

There seems to be a lot of discussion and conflict over the proposed Brush Creek Development, the Rent-a-geddon “mini-city” that developer Gatesco wants to locate at Brush Creek and Hwy 135. There appears to be a general consensus that there are no alternatives. Well, that is simply not true. A group of former developers and locals have been working on an alternative plan for a while, and it appears to me to be a very viable, well thought out solution. What has been discussed and assembled is a mixed use development on the same approximately 13 acre Brush Creek site that would blend permanent housing, rental housing, seasonal housing, a transit center, and common space areas that would harmonize with the surrounding neighborhood. The alternative plan, called The Enclave, was conceived with input from the surrounding neighborhoods as well as a careful consideration to satisfy the requirements and priorities of the Gunnison Valley Housing Needs Assessment. Here is a basic summary of The Enclave. It would consist of 26 permanent homes, constructed as 13 duplexes. The homes would then be offered to workforce housing residents of the Gunnison Valley for the estimated pricing of $270,000 to $320,000 for either a three-bedroom or four-bedroom home. All would have attached two-car garages, and would feature custom-home–type finishes, including granite countertops, tile and hardwood floors and spacious gourmet kitchens. In addition, 60 rental units would be constructed, of which 30 would be Section 42 housing restricted to those who make 60 percent or less of Area Median Income ($29,760 for single person), and the other 30 would be available as workforce housing for those who make up to 120 percent of Area Median Income ($59,520 for a single person). The unit mix would be 12 efficiencies (4 Section 42), 18 one-bedroom/one bathroom (12 Section 42), 18 two-bedroom/two bathroom (10 Section 42), eight three-bedroom/two bathroom (4 Section 42) and four four-bedroom/four bathroom units specifically designed for seasonal workers. These four units would provide 16 critical units for this type of resident. In all, 45 of the 60 units (75 percent) would have targeted rents at or below the Housing Needs Assessment primary recommendation, which states, “To address housing needs, efforts should focus primarily on households with the following maximum rents: $1,000 to $1,200 per month.” Every effort was made to hold rents in this range to maximize affordability in all the unit types. All the rental units would have the same custom finishes as the homes; granite countertops, tile/ hardwood floors, and garages. To facilitate transportation, a transit center with an estimated 72 parking spaces would be constructed. The common space would be designed to be adaptable for conversion from a baseball diamond to soccer field or any other number of options that the community would want. When the entire community is all finished, the homes sold and the rental units leased up, permanent financing would be placed on the rental units and the entire development given to the Gunnison Valley Regional Housing Authority to own and operate. In my opinion, that is the only way the property could be operated in the best interests of the Valley. No, I’m not smoking some of the local produce. The local developers who have already committed to building this property and the sources of equity really just want the knowledge that any development is done right and in the best interests of the Gunnison Valley and its residents. They are much more focused on the long-term quality of housing for the Valley, not the short-term financial gain of a developer. So, why isn’t this being considered? I have lots of theories but none of them make any logical sense. Logic would tell me our elected officials would evaluate and entertain any and all alternatives in their desire to produce the best result for the Valley. Logic would also tell me a plan should be formulated and executed so this housing crisis could be solved methodically, but that hasn’t happened either. I am at loss. I enjoy Crested Butte, the Gunnison Valley, and its people more than I could write in this letter. The Gatesco development proposal, in my opinion, is just the absolute wrong development for the Valley. I fear if approved, this project will forever change our schools, our town, and the wilderness we so enjoy, and not for the better. Much time has been put into researching the Housing Needs Assessment by a multitude of concerned and committed people, both locals and non locals, in an effort to produce a viable alternative that really satisfies the affordable housing needs, not just produces rental units. The Enclave plan represents just that. Why the heck isn’t it being considered?

Norman Eastwood, Crested Butte