Saturday, June 6, 2020

Pitchfork affordable housing project still struggling in Mt. CB

Two rental units a major hurdle for affordability 

By Katherine Nettles

Although the second reading of the Pitchfork development major alteration was approved by the Mt. Crested Butte Town Council on November 6, community development director Carlos Velado brought up some ongoing issues the developer has with financing the project. The alteration the council had previously approved allowed two of the four units to be sold, while keeping the other two as rentals. The developer, Gunnison County, had requested that all be sold under deed restrictions, but the council had denied that and reached a middle ground of two for sale and two for rent.

“John Cattles [Gunnison County sustainable operations director and the project developer] said he is still trying to make it work, but the rental units are making it more of a challenge for him,” said Velado. “I don’t want to say it’s not going to happen, but there is still going to be more to be done.”

There was discussion of how to help troubleshoot the issue, potentially allowing the units to be sold to a business but then rented for employee benefit.

Mayor Todd Barnes asked if Cattles could do three for sale and one rental, as well.

“We are being told that two and two doesn’t work,” Barnes reflected.

Velado responded that in such a case as the developer decided they could not go through with the project as approved, they would need a do-over, with a new proposal to be approved or denied by the council.

Council member Roman Kolodziej reviewed the project’s history, including that Cattles had wanted to go to fewer units while maintaining the same bedroom count. The council had approved that aspect, but not the aspect of all units being for sale.

“By having two rentals, it ties up some of that [affordable housing] capital for the county,” said Velado. “With a limited pool of money, they are wanting to maximize that.”

Cattles is trying to find out if he can make the numbers work, particularly waiting on input from the Gunnison Board of County Commissioners, which is funding the project, as to what direction to take.

The council determined that since the developer was previously asking for all four units to be for sale, and if the project as currently approved fails in its funding stage, Velado could encourage the developer to come back and ask again for more for-sale units.

“I think there’s no doubt the town would like to see something built on this property,” said Barnes.

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