CMC eyeing student housing for Edwards campus | VailDaily.com

CMC eyeing student housing for Edwards campus

EDWARDS — Colorado Mountain College might build residence halls in Edwards, or it might not.

The college is gathering data from Edwards and the rest of its campuses, determining who needs what — if anything.

“We don’t know what will come from this study,” said Linda English, CMC’s vice president for fiscal affairs.

They did a similar study in 2011, which recommended against building student housing in Edwards, unless the college could find a partner who was willing to take on 100 percent of the risk.

“All over the area, housing is an issue, not only for students but for everyone. We looked at it in 2011 and it didn’t make sense. It might now.”Linda EnglishColorado Mountain College

It turns out no such partner exists.

Time to look again

As you might recall, in 2011 the economy was still in the dumper and the need wasn’t as pressing as it appears to be now, said Deb Crawford-Arenson, CMC’s public information director.

“As the economy recovers, there is a lack of housing inventory throughout much of our six-county district,” Crawford-Arenson said. “Some of our students are telling us that they’re having a hard time finding places to live, as are our new employees.”

CMC hired The Scion Group, a Chicago-based research firm, to take another look.

Scion hosted focus groups earlier this week with students and employees on four of CMC’s largest campuses: Roaring Fork (Glenwood, Carbondale and Spring Valley), Edwards, Steamboat and Summit County (they have locations in Dillon and Breckenridge).

Scion is also surveying all credit students, faculty and staff on all CMC campuses.

The final report might be available by December.

After that it becomes an issue for CMC’s board of directors, English said.

Recruitment relief

That 2011 study covered all CMC campuses, not just Edwards. The Scion Group is handling this one the same way, said Donald Kamalsky, with Scion.

The times might have changed enough that CMC is taking another cautious look, English said.

“All over the area, housing is an issue, not only for students but for everyone,” English said. “We looked at it in 2011 and it didn’t make sense. It might now.”

Still, they have to be mindful of any project’s impact on existing housing, English said.

The 2011 study did not consider housing faculty and staff. This new study does.

Recruiting employees to the area is becoming more challenging because of housing problems, and not just for CMC, English said.

“We’re exploring partnership possibilities with other entities,” English said.

At a focus group meeting earlier this week, Scion spoke with a few local business leaders, as well as the Eagle County school district.

Already in the student housing business

CMC already has student housing on three campuses: Steamboat Springs, Leadville and Spring Valley near Glenwood Springs.

CMC owns 16 acres in Edwards, where its Edwards campus is located.

Whatever is still available might accommodate housing; or it might not.

There are currently no facilities at the Edwards campus for things like student meal plans and other student needs, English said.

“The bottom line is that we want to serve our student needs in a way we can financially sustain that,” English said.

The Edwards campus was debt free the day they opened the door. They had to borrow a little for the new Rifle and Breckenridge campuses, English said.

If anything is built in Edwards, then they might have to issue some bonds to pay for it, English said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.