Home: This Must Be the Place
by Dawne Belloise
“Home is where I want to be but I guess I’m already there. I come home, she lifted up her wings, I guess that this must be the place…” —Talking Heads
Shafts of sunlight stream over Gibson Ridge and through the windows of the south-facing Anthracite Place apartments. In the north-facing apartments, the view flies over the True Value store to encompass all of Whiterock and Gothic mountains and Paradise Divide. It’s no wonder the soon-to-be first tenants are giddy with excitement. Not only are the units affordable with incredible views, everything is brand spanking new with appliances and fixtures that would make Martha Stewart envious. It’s exactly what Crested Butte needed: rental units to help keep our community intact.
As the finishing touches are put into place, from painting, siding and cleaning to the homey garden feel of its landscaping, workers are scurrying and final construction is in warp speed mode to get the building finished by the August 1 move in date for those first 20 confirmed residents, and for the guests and visitors who will attend the grand opening on Friday, July 22, at 3 to 5:30 p.m. (yes, food and Colorado brews will be served).
As of this week, applications are still being accepted for the remaining 10 units, although the spaces should understandably fill up fast. The apartments will be home to a diverse group, from moms with kids to senior citizens, and from artists and musicians to bus drivers and the 9-to-5 blue collar and service industry workers—the eclectic mix of those who make Crested Butte as unique as it is.
Mary Tuck has been a much loved fixture in Crested Butte since 1948, coming here as a child on vacation. She’s an artist, actor and vocalist, among a plethora of other talents. She moved out of the valley twice, once to the Carolinas in 2006, in “A year spent seeing if I wanted to live there…NOPE,” she said in absolute certainty. The last time she moved, she relocated to Florence, Ore., from 2014 to 2015 to help a friend through a difficult physical time and found herself stuck there for the winter. She realized she truly belonged in Crested Butte. “My heart is here. I’ve seen this town go from a ghost town with dirt streets, with sheep and cattle walking down it, and mud and wooden planks that people used as sidewalks to walk on, to what it is today.”
Tuck came back in the ‘70s and ran a ski lodge up on the mountain for a while and when she retired from teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District, she packed up her mom and moved back to the Butte full time in 1997. “I can’t stand being anyplace else. I keep trying other places but sorry, they just aren’t here, even though it’s tough to be here financially and physically,” says the now senior Tuck.
She returned to work three jobs and rented a house in Crested Butte South, but that house sold. When she found out about Anthracite Place she was beyond thrilled. Mary Tuck feels that because of affordable housing she will not be priced out of town.
“Yeah, the process was tough and there were days I was literally in tears because I’ve been couch surfing since I got back,” she says. She augmented that with pet and house sitting jobs, and she feels lucky that she’s had a roof over her head, which she attributes to a community that made sure she had housing, if only temporary, at all times during her hunt for a home. “You can’t be in a better place. This community has raised a lot of children, has taken care of a lot of us old farts.” Her laugh echoes what many feel is the glue of Crested Butte, a community that takes care of each other, despite the changing demographic.
Tuck’s excitement bubbles over as she describes the walk-through that the residents went to earlier in the week. “They did not spare the expenses. They really put the money into that building. It is beautiful. I like the design and the amenities. Each of us has our own washer and dryer, and you don’t have to go down into a dark basement somewhere to do your laundry with somebody else’s poopy underwear,” she laughs jovially. “And the laminate floors are a dove grey, like a pickled wood. It looks and feels like real wood, with in-floor heating and that’s included in your rent with your hot water. The only utility you have to pay for is your electric, which is the kitchen stove, the lights and washer-dryer.”
The apartments are enveloped in foam insulation—floors, ceilings and walls—for both energy efficiency and a sound barrier.
Randall K., aka “Randog,” considers himself among the lucky ones. Having moved here in 1991, the KBUT DJ and Mountain Express bus driver will soon be an Anthracite Place resident. “I was living at Skyland Lodge, but my condo was sold and I was really looking to move back into town.” Although he also feels the application process was involved, for him, the long wait and the uncertainty was harder, not knowing for sure if he would be accepted into the program. But overall, Koontz felt that the process itself really worked well. His placement put him in a north-facing third floor. “So I’m going to have an amazing views and I’m looking forward to being part of a new community and making new friends,” he said.
Chuck Grossman is a Colorado native who graduated from Western State College in 1984 and has lived and worked in various parts of the state as a professional musician. He also has more than 200 first ascents attributed to him as an extreme rock climber in his younger days, but that didn’t have an influence in his placement on Anthracite Place’s south-facing third floor, as apartments were assigned randomly and by an outside process. For the past three years, most of Grossman’s gigs were in this valley so he lived in town for a spell before that room became unavailable. For the past two years, he lived in a condo in Crested Butte South that went up for sale recently and pushed him into trying to find new digs that matched his budget.
With housing at a crunch and most of it unaffordable to working locals, Anthracite Place gave him the opportunity to stay in the valley he’s chosen as home. He’s ecstatic about the individual storage units supplied to 25 of the 30 units (the other five apartments have large storage inside the living space). “I’m excited about the quality of the overall building, the great appliances and in-floor heating, and it’s finally a place that I can afford,” Grossman says. “It’s brand new and nobody’s lived in it before. And the security of having my own place that I know is stable, that it won’t go on the market for sale, forcing me to move again, is reassuring.”
There are some rules tenants will have to adhere to that might feel a little restrictive, like no smoking of any kind, but then, residents can stock up on their legal edibles. And as far as bringing your lover home, you’re allowed only 30 days per year for overnighters in your groovy love nest. If your visiting guests leave their car in the private parking lot during their stay, residents must call in with car ID to avoid their friend’s vehicle from being towed, as the surveillance cams will record the intruders.
But all in all, those who turned in completed applications and met the financial parameters of these beautifully appointed apartments, who were chosen on a first-come first-served basis, will now be the happy microcosm community of Anthracite Place, the first affordable rental housing in Crested Butte. Welcome home.