Discussion has reignited about the county-owned property on Dumont Road, formerly the Latter Day Saints church. Evergreen-based Blue Spruce Habitat for Humanity has proposed building 20 permanently …
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Discussion has reignited about the county-owned property on Dumont Road, formerly the Latter Day Saints church.
Evergreen-based Blue Spruce Habitat for Humanity has proposed building 20 permanently affordable units for independent seniors and turning the church building into some type of community center.
Blue Spruce would use grants to buy the 4.5-acre property for $450,000 — the amount the county bought it for in 2017.
However, county consultants said the land and structure are worth almost twice that amount and that higher-density housing is arguably a better use of the land.
No decision has been made about the property, and Blue Spruce’s proposal is the only one on the table at this time.
During a March 9 work session, Commissioner George Marlin said the board must find the kinds of solutions it thinks is the best fit for the property long-term, while also considering the demand for local housing and preserving the community feel.
Blue Spruce’s proposal
Last month, Blue Spruce leadership and county staff presented the 20-unit proposal to the board, describing how there is a significant need for senior housing in Clear Creek and how Blue Spruce can guarantee affordability and eligibility.
There’s been a lot of interest in the site since the county bought it, but cost-benefit analyses have never worked out, they explained. While the property has utility lines, the road is unpaved and needs to be before any development.
Kathleen O’Leary, Blue Spruce’s executive director, clarified that the property would need to be rezoned to allow for a mix of single-family homes, duplexes and triplexes.
She outlined a possible timeline:
In 2021, Clear Creek applies for a Colorado Department of Local Affairs’ community development block grant.
In 2022, the county receives the grant funds, the agreement with Blue Spruce is in place, road work begins, and the property transfer is complete.
In 2023-25, homes are built and sold.
“When you can stabilize housing for people, it makes a huge difference,” O’Leary said. “If that’s solved for them, and if it’s affordable, that takes a lot of worry and stress off folks.”
Ideas of market multi-family
On March 9, the commissioners heard from a broker that the land and building’s market value is between $915,000 and $1 million. Additionally, the structure could be saved as a community center, but that would be a developer decision.
Later that day, the commissioners had a separate work session with developer Brian Roberts of Powderhorn Land LLC, who was asked to explore other options beyond the Blue Spruce proposal.
Roberts clarified he was not making an offer, but merely consulting on what for-profit developers might propose.
While he said Habitat for Humanity does good work and didn’t want to dismiss Blue Spruce’s proposal, he pointed out that it doesn’t include any money to improve the road. Thus, it would ultimately cost the county money.
It also doesn’t put much of a dent into the regional housing crisis, Roberts said, explaining that Jefferson, Clear Creek and Summit Counties could easily use 5,000 workforce housing units.
Ultimately, the best way to address both the development costs and the housing needs is a higher-density project with a special district for financing, he said.
The only problem he outlined is getting the neighbors’ support, which he suggested could be achieved by offering to include their properties in the rezoning application. That way, if and when they decide to sell their properties, they would be worth more.
Roberts also outlined a possible project that involved building two apartment buildings with 128 units total. The buildings would be four floors each with 175 parking spaces, and each unit would be about 500-square feet.
Additionally, if the county had some kind of inclusionary housing requirement, he said some of the units could be cost-protected while the others would be market rate.
“You could add back the 20 units in the Habitat (for Humanity) proposal,” he said, adding that it would also give the local workforce, such as teachers and police officers, a place to live nearby.
Commissioner Sean Wood thanked Roberts for working on such short notice, saying these concepts gave him new things to think about.
“This is probably leading up to a more interesting policy discussion,” Wood continued. “ … It’s a very important but complex issue, and there are many lenses to look at it through.”
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