Gypsum approves 12 new Habitat homes at IK Bar Ranch property near Red Hill Elementary
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To apply for the Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley homeownership program or to volunteer to help build a Habitat home visit the organization’s website at habitatvailvalley.org
GYPSUM — Thirty-six of Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley’s 60 completed Eagle County homes are located in Gypsum.
That’s what you call a successful partnership and a recent approval by the Gypsum Town Council will extend it into the near future in a new locale.
Last week the county approved a proposal from Habitat and Eagle County Schools to build 12 units at the IK Bar Ranch site off Valley Road in south Gypsum.
“About a year ago, the school district and Habitat started talking,” said Eagle County Schools consultant Tom Braun. “The district has land but doesn’t know much about building houses. Habitat is good at building houses but doesn’t have land.”
By combining their assets and knowledge, Braun said the two entities developed a plan that will serve both.
On the subject of partnerships, the IK Bar site is another example.
In the early 1990s, the school district purchased the 76.4 acre site and subsequently built both Red Hill Elementary School and Gypsum Creek Middle School in the area. The district’s stated goal for the property is mixed use development with a focus on education facilities, open space, recreation uses, community uses and limited residential. Existing schools and athletic fields at the site encompass 26 acres, and there is a reserved future school site covering 18.7 acres. A 13-acre community/recreation site in the area was acquired by the town in 2014.
The new partnership with Habitat involves a 2.3 acre site located off White Tail Drive just west of Red Hill Elementary. At the time when the IK Bar property was annexed to the town, this lot was zoned as multifamily residential with a maximum of eight units of up to 3,000 square feet. Last week the Gypsum council agreed to allow 12 units of up to 1,500 square feet at the location.
Braun noted the land is well suited for residential construction and not well suited for school expansion.
“We like flat sites for our needs and that site is not flat,” he explained.
But school construction sites aren’t the district’s only need. Just like every employer in the valley, Eagle County Schools struggles to find workers, who in turn struggle to find housing. Habitat has been a popular alternative for Eagle County Schools employees, Braun noted, because approximately 20 percent of current Habitat homes are owned by district workers.
Entrenching in Gypsum
“We are entrenching ourselves in Gypsum with this potential proposal,” noted Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley Executive Director John Welaj.
Just last week, Habitat celebrated the dedication of seven homes in the Stratton Flats neighborhood. The organization plans to build four more homes at Stratton Flats next year, before shifting construction to the IK Bar area.
“We are just really exited to look at a future here,” Welaj said. “This is our first donated property and that is another really cool plus.”
For their part, Gypsum officials were happy to continue their Habitat partnership.
“Certainly, I think the town has been very pleased with our relationship with Habitat for Humanity,” said Gypsum Town Manager Jeremy Rietmann. “They offer a good solution for qualified families to put in some sweat equity so they can become homeowners.”