Cheaper Gypsum homes excite some locals
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” The Vail Valley’s newest affordable-housing neighborhood is a step forward in solving the housing problem, but help from businesses and second-homeowners is needed, too, Eagle County residents said.
Stratton Flats, just west of the Eagle County Regional Airport in Gypsum, is supposed to have 226 deed-restricted homes, ranging from one-bedroom condos to five-bedroom single-family houses.
“This is a place I always want to be part of, and getting a home is the only way I’m going to be able to stick around,” said Edwards native Jose Lozano, 24, who is hoping to get an affordable home in the county.
Plans for what some call the “second Miller Ranch” are a collaboration between the town of Gypsum, Meritage Development in Basalt and Eagle County, who invested $4.5 million in the project.
One third of the homes will be free-market prices, one third will be deed-restricted and appreciation-capped according to Eagle County guidelines, and one third will be deed restricted but with no appreciation caps according to Gypsum’s guidelines.
Eagle County Commissioner Peter Runyon said the combination of different deed-restriction policies will be a great “petri dish experiment” to see what kind of affordable housing works best.
The deal was announced last week, and construction will start in this spring.
Many people have already expressed interest in buying one of the homes at the project’s sales office, said Scott Russell of Meritage Development Group, the developer.
“We’ve gotten a lot of interest, and within a few weeks we’ll be accepting applications,” he said.
Projects like Stratton Flats and the West End ” an Edwards development that will include 72 affordable homes ” are the only way younger people are going to be able to stay in the valley, Lozano said.
Lozano grew up in Edwards and has seen many friends move to Denver because there were no housing opportunities in the valley. He hopes to get a unit at the West End with the help of his parents, he said.
Avon resident Patrick Sheridan said he wants to buy a home, and wants to stay upvalley to be closer to the mountain. Stratton Flats will be a great place for families, he said.
“With the growth downvalley and Eagle being the county seat, there are many opportunities for families. I think the next generation will grow from that community,” he said.
However, some residents said affordable homes are not enough to make them move downvalley. Edwards resident Ashley Weaver, 26, is looking for a home, but she does not want to live in Gypsum, she said.
She hopes to get an affordable West End unit, she said.
“I don’t think I’m ready for a downvalley move. There’s more going on upvalley, and I love Edwards,” said Weaver.
But Russell of Meritage Development said that high prices in Eagle and Edwards will force people downvalley.
“It’s really about the affordability,” Russell said.
Although Gypsum seems far now, it is on its way to becoming an independent community, said Runyon.
More and more jobs are moving downvalley, such as those in a new medical center that is planned for Gypsum, he said.
“Also, it’s just economic reality that the cost of raw land is higher. It’s hard to find affordable land upvalley,” he said.
Gypsum has promise as a good place to live in the future, said Avon resident Joshua Byer, a ski instructor.
“They’re improving it and making it a community with restaurants, stores, and town planning. Avon has the vibe of leeching off Beaver Creek. But Edwards and Gypsum, those are real communities,” he said.
Still, Byers said he thinks Stratton Flats is only a temporary solution to the housing problem. The homes are won’t be the best quality and will be still overpriced, he said.
“I could never afford one,” he said.
Sheridan agreed that to solve the housing problem, government investments are not enough. Second-home owners should share the wealth, he said.
“The frustration I feel in this community is of the haves and have-nots,” he said. “If we want this place to grow and prosper, second-home owners are going to have to be willing to pitch in.”
Employers in the valley also need to do their part, said Avon resident Ellen Gannon
“Wages and benefits need to reflect the community we live in,” she said. “You can’t live here on ten bucks an hour.”
Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or email@example.com.