RTA taking employee housing solutions into its own hands

Potential for 13 new units by end of next summer

[ By Mark Reaman ]

The Gunnison Valley Rural Transportation Authority is setting itself up to provide housing for employees of the local transportation systems. The RTA currently has five townhomes under construction at the Lazy K development in Gunnison. Plans for a five-plex on West Denver Avenue and three potential apartments above a bus barn at the Gunnison Senior Care Center are also on the drawing board and could be finished by the fall of 2022.

RTA executive director Scott Truex informed the board at the December 10 meeting that the projects will set up the organization in terms of owning employee housing for years to come. The idea is that workers associated with the RTA would then have affordable places to rent.
Truex said the Lazy K project is going up quickly and framing of the buildings has started. It is comprised of five two-bedroom townhomes. Truex expects a late summer or early fall completion for the units. The expectation is that drivers of the RTA buses would fill the units. The townhomes will all have City of Gunnison deed restrictions on them that include income limits. The RTA is under contract for $1.77 million for the Lazy K project.

Truex said Friday he has been in discussions with a private developer who is planning a deed restricted development on the west side of Gunnison. The RTA is interested in purchasing five units there for additional employee housing. While that project would also come with some deed restrictions to make sure local residents live in the development, the idea is that income limits would not be part of the RTA units. “This will allow places for people like supervisors and mechanics, people who make more than the median income but still can’t find or afford a place to live in the valley,” Truex explained.

He said the private developer wants to include deed restrictions on the units and there would likely be limits on what any resale price would be. “The developer wants to do a project that keeps the units affordable,” Truex said. “They are voluntarily putting the deed restrictions on the property. They are trying to do something good for the community.”

Truex is in discussions to have a five-plex built on the site that would include two three-bedroom and three two-bedroom units. He emphasized that it was unlikely the RTA would ever sell the units.

“This would be a good complement to what we are doing with Lazy K,” noted RTA board member Roland Mason. “We need to be able to hire people that make more in salary but can’t find housing.”

“The location looks great and the initial drawing looks great,” added board member Boe Freeburn.

That project is estimated to cost less than $1.5 million.

Truex then told the board he has been talking to Gunnison Valley Health vice president Wade Baker and they are discussing the potential of building a three-bay bus barn that includes some employee apartments on the campus of the Gunnison Senior Care Center.

“Wade suggested that we start that project this spring and put three one-bedroom units above the bus barn,” Truex said. “The senior transportation employees would have first dibs on the units and then it could go to other GVH employees if available.”

“That too is a great spot,” said Mason. “Investing in the senior program is a good direction.”

“It seems like a good long-term investment,” said Truex.

Truex said the hope is to start the project in April and have it completed by the end of summer. That project would cost the RTA about $1 million. Truex assured the board that the RTA fund balances would remain healthy even with all the housing projects. The organization would still have about $3.9 million in its fund balances at the end of 2023. There is currently about $6 million in RTA reserve funds.

Check Also

Met Rec debating recreation tax proposal for North Valley

How much? For who? Would it even pass in this economic climate? [  By Mark …