Housing group moves on | SummitDaily.com

Housing group moves on

FRISCO – Community Action for Sustainable and Affordable Solutions (CASAS) – a local not-for-profit group that submitted a bid for Frisco’s affordable housing project – wasn’t among the town’s finalists for the upcoming project, but its members still plan to build affordable, sustainable housing.

“I think it’s actually going to be really positive where we head from now,” said Michelle Gabrieloff-Parish, a co-founder of CASAS. “We have everything we need to move forward, and we know how to move forward, as well. We’ve learned a lot from the process and gotten a lot of great people on board.”

Although Frisco officials didn’t select CASAS for an interview, group members still feel they were successful.

“It did bring us all together,” said Andrew Held, who serves on the CASAS advisory board and is the group’s general contractor. “We were a group of activists that weren’t necessarily as focused as we are now, because of this project.”

Not only did Frisco’s housing project bid process solidify the group, but the CASAS bid also prompted the town to include sustainability in the parameters for its housing project, which was its original mission, Held said.

“(Our mission was) not that we get the project, but that we change the vocabulary a little or open new avenues that haven’t been thought of before,” he said.

Since submitting its bid for a sustainable and affordable housing project in Frisco, CASAS has attracted interested from a number of people. They include Hy Brown, a professor at the University of Colorado and formerly vice-president of Tishman Realty and Construction, whose projects include four of the five 100-story office buildings in the United States. (Most notably, Brown was involved in the design and construction of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.)

Brown is known for completing large projects under budget and before deadline, Gabrieloff-Parish said. “We’re pretty confident we can do anything we want right now, including a much larger project.”

Ideally, CASAS members would like to build the group’s own affordable and sustainable housing project in Summit County, but Held said members likely will work with other groups on a contract basis. In fact, a group in Fort Collins that is trying to build a sustainable development already has contacted CASAS members for guidance, he said.

While Frisco officials didn’t specify why the town’s selection committee didn’t choose to interview CASAS for the affordable housing project it’s planning at 8th and Belford (across from Frisco Elementary School), they said committee members were looking for bidders with a proven track record and experience in similar projects.

The project’s layout and architecture also were important to officials, said Mark Gage, Frisco’s senior planner.

“The whole idea is that they want to pick somebody that’s going to build something that’s compatible with the neighborhood, as well as fulfill council’s goal for attainable housing,” Gage said.

The selection committee interviewed three finalists last week; the National Development Council (NDC), O’Bryan Partnership and Alpine Concepts, and Oz Architecture and Burgwyn Company.

Gabrieloff-Parish and Held were encouraged to hear a nonprofit was among the three finalists.

NDC is the oldest of the nation’s nonprofits dedicated to affordable housing and economic development finance, according to its Web site.

While Frisco’s selection committee has yet to choose its final candidate, it likely will make a recommendation to council the first week of June, Gage said. If the planning commission process goes smoothly, workers could break ground at the 8th and Belford site by the end of the summer.

Lu Snyder can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or lsnyder@summitdaily.com

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