Avon opening up firehouse to worker housing over artist in residence idea | SummitDaily.com

Avon opening up firehouse to worker housing over artist in residence idea

John LaConte
jlaconte@vaildaily.com

The town of Avon is seeking a business to lease the former Fire Station No. 7 for use as worker housing. For more information, contact Matt Pielsticker at 970-748-4413 or mpielsticker@avon.org.

AVON — Avon's artist-in-residence program is not off the table. It will just take a little time to get together, so officials have decided it's best to not let a potential worker home sit vacant amid a situation that's being described as a housing crisis.

An artist-in-residence program was the first idea for the former fire station, which was vacated this month as part of the Eagle River Fire Protection District's migration over to its new location on Buck Creek Road. That idea was met with enthusiasm from the Avon Town Council, which examined the idea during a couple of work sessions.

"I've wanted to see Avon find a home for artists since before it was even announced the firefighters were vacating," said Councilman Jake Wolf, who has toured with the state examining art districts and artist-in-residence programs. "But I can see that it's going to take some time to get together, so I guess we'll have to wait another year to see that happen. At this point, I'm just glad to see someone will be able to live there.

"Anyway," Wolf added, "what's another year on top of the four years I've been waiting?"

'IT'S JUST CRAZY'

Mayor Jennie Fancher said she also supports an artist-in-residence program in Avon.

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"It could be work space for artists, where they could live upstairs and create and teach down below," Fancher said. "But we're just not ready to move forward with that so quickly, and since there is such a demand for worker housing, and it's already set up dorm style — shared bathrooms, shared kitchen — it just makes sense to let someone use it for the winter, if it indeed is needed."

Fancher recently attended a planning conference in Telluride where she saw the breadth of Colorado's housing problems.

"Every single community in Colorado is facing the exact same issues when it comes to planning and housing," she said. "It doesn't matter if you're talking about Denver or Boulder or Lakewood or if you're talking about Avon, Vail, Telluride or Durango; everyone is facing these outdated codes with the definition of family and multiple families or multiple people living in a single-family home, turning a single-family home into multiple dwelling units, how to create affordable housing, how can you attract business if you don't have housing. It's just crazy."

POLE SET TO STAY

Fancher said she expects businesses will start coming forward in the coming weeks to inquire about the fire station, which is located at 351 Benchmark Road. The space can accommodate up to 12 individuals in its eight bedrooms and four bathrooms.

"If it were an Avon business, I think a hotel or even City Market would find it useful," Fancher said. "But it can be any business in the valley who wants it."

Avon is currently in the process of turning over the building to make it ideal for its new residents, and Avon town manager Virginia Egger said the plan is to leave the fire pole in the building unless the new leaseholder wants it removed. Pets will not be allowed.

As of Friday, Oct. 27, no businesses had yet come forward to inquire about housing employees in the space, Egger said.

"What often happens is businesses work to deadlines," Egger said. "This is one where businesses need to do some penciling before they get too far."

The deadline to apply is Saturday, Nov. 11, Egger said. The initial lease will be from Dec. 15, to Sept. 15, 2018. For more information, contact Avon planning director Matt Pielsticker at 970-748-4413 or mpielsticker@avon.org.

Avon Fire Station

Worker housing opportunity:

• Unfurnished, dormitory-style living

• Can accommodate up to 12

• Eight individual bedrooms

• Four full bathrooms

• Access to the garage bays not available

• Parking permitted in assigned spaces; limit of one car per tenant

• Town will maintain landscaping and provide snow removal

• Pets not allowed

Source: Town of Avon