School district housing project sees big price increase

District looking at two designs to possibly save money

By Anika Pepper

Rising construction costs are putting the squeeze on the potential sale of a duplex that the Gunnison Re1J school district has been planning on purchasing in the town of Crested Butte.

The Gunnison Watershed School District board heard from Crested Butte community development director Michael Yerman on Monday evening regarding the ongoing development of the duplex the district intends to buy on Teocalli Avenue in the Paradise Park subdivision. Yerman pointed to the fact that an approximate 30 percent increase in building costs will inevitably increase the purchase price in the transaction between the town and the school district.

The original price of the duplex building was estimated at about $520,000, but due to the increased construction cost the new purchase price looks closer to $590,000. However, Yerman presented a single-story duplex alternative to the district that would cost closer to $560,000. Yerman said the town wants to work with the district’s budget and is trying hard to keep costs down.

Re1J superintendent Leslie Nichols said the school district would ask for assistance from the Gunnison Valley Regional Housing Foundation, a group dedicated to help provide workforce housing in the valley. Nichols said the organization might assist if the payment ends up becoming an issue. According to Yerman, the foundation donated $25,000 for the design portion of this duplex project.

Looking at the most recent financial figures, the board stated that it looked like there was a $44,000 or $74,000 difference from what was expected, depending on the unit design.

There are two designs for the proposed units. The first is for a one-story, two-bedroom, one-bath duplex that is approximately 912 square feet. The other design is slightly larger, at 1,024 square feet and would be a two-story duplex with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Yerman suggested that the smaller building would save construction costs with the decreased size and only one bathroom. The one-story unit would also be ADA-compliant in case the school has an employee with disabilities. School board member Dale Orth said the board wanted to hear more about both units, but indicated they were more interested in the larger two-bathroom unit.

While the board seems eager to get this project under contract, Yerman said the town of Crested Butte is not in any rush. “It is well worth having a funding conversation with the foundation,” he stated.

Yerman said the duplex would be built whether or not the school district ultimately purchases the building. If the school district passes on the purchase, the two units will be added to the town lottery for affordable housing.

Nichols highlighted a positive working relationship with the town of Crested Butte on this project, saying, “The town of Crested Butte has put the district in a great position to ultimately build three buildings of six duplexes.”

Nichols said moving forward, the next step in this process would be to get in touch with the Gunnison Valley Regional Housing Foundation before the school board meeting on September 8.

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