Colorado Mountain College, Eagle County collaborate on new apartments in Edwards
EDWARDS — The “speed of government” is often only slightly faster than geologic time. A new housing project in Edwards moved much more quickly.
Eagle County and Colorado Mountain College are collaborating on a two-building apartment complex between Freedom Park and the college campus. The project is under construction now, but college and county officials will hold a Nov. 7 groundbreaking ceremony. The first units should be available late in 2023.
Jill Klosterman, Eagle County’s chief financial officer, said the county’s participation developed quickly — the proposal was floated in March, and the deal was closed July 27.
The county used some of the proceeds from its January sale of the Lake Creek Village apartments. That sale netted the county $50 million to use for housing, and a directive from the Board of Eagle County Commissioners to spend the money as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Klosterman said the deal with the college — which was already planning one building at the site — was the quickest way to get a project out of the ground.
Chris Romer is a member of the Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees. Romer said the college’s senior leadership team has identified housing as perhaps the school’s biggest challenge. Working with that advice, the board has approved investing in additional housing beyond the Edwards campus, at the school’s Spring Valley, Steamboat Springs and Breckenridge sites. The school is working with local governments in those counties, too.
“From a board perspective, we’re enthusiastic about partnering with (local governments),” Romer said, adding that additional housing for the college helps housing in the entire community.
The county and college will split the two buildings and the 72 units of two-bedroom and studio units. The apartments have a total of 96 beds.
The college’s apartments will be used for students, staff and faculty. The county’s portion of the units will be available to people who work in Eagle County.
The two buildings will be built by the same contractor and were designed by the architects. The college shepherded the project through the county’s approval process.
Klosterman said that process was more streamlined than usual because the applicant is a government organization.
Local architect Michael Hazard is a member of the Eagle County Housing Task Force, a volunteer group that studies housing and advocates for solutions to the local housing shortage. Hazard said he and other task force members would like to see more projects like the new one in Edwards. That’s especially true of the streamlined approval process.
The regulatory hoops for private developers are still “excessive,” Hazard said, adding that when developers look at costs and potential profits on lower-cost projects, a lengthy approval process can be the difference between starting a project or abandoning it.
Ultimately, “Here’s another employer in the county taking the initiative to create housing.” And, he added, the project is a stone’s throw from Miller Ranch, “one of the most exciting housing projects in the county.”
Hazard said he and other housing advocates hope to see more projects like the collaboration between the county and the college.
But, he added, “We have to make it easier.”
- What: The project is a joint effort by Eagle County and Colorado Mountain College.
- Where: Edwards, between Freedom Park and the Colorado Mountain College campus.
- Who gets what: Two buildings hold 72 rental units, totaling 96 beds. Eagle County and the college each get one building.
- Cost: Approximately $10 million per building.
- Completion: The first units should be available in late 2023.
This story is from VailDaily.com.
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