Locals camp out for affordable Edwards homes | VailDaily.com

Locals camp out for affordable Edwards homes

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
NWS west end waiting1 KA 01-30-08

EDWARDS, Colorado” Armed with lawn chairs, warm clothes, and snacks, Edwards residents Joe Robinson and Howard Glasser looked like diehard concert goers camped out for tickets ” not homebuyers of affordable condos.

“I’ve been here since about noon, and I’m staying through tonight,” said Robinson on Wednesday afternoon.

The line trailing from the doors of Gateway Development in Edwards was for a different kind of event ” the sale of 72 affordable homes.

Gateway will start accepting applications today at 9:30 a.m. for the homes at West End, a yet-to-be-built project that will bring a mix of homes and businesses to downtown Edwards.

About 300 applications have already been given out for the 72 homes, said Brian Bair of Midtown Group, the project’s developer.

“We expected this,” he said. “Our research tells us this is the place locals want to be. We’re expecting to sell out quickly.”

Eagle-Vail resident Sara McClure was one of the first 10 people in line. She came at about 10:30 a.m. to wait for a one-bedroom condo.

“I’ve been super anxious about this. There are limited numbers of the lower-priced (condos). I was planning on camping out here no matter what,” she said.

She took the day off to get in line, and everyone at work was cheering her on, she said.

The first place in line went to Heather Somerville, with the help of friend John Wade. Wade got in line at 8:30 a.m. to snag the top spot. Somerville went to work and joined him at noon with a sleeping bag, six blankets and a carload of food.

Somerville, an Avon resident, said she has been thinking about owning a home for a while and this is her best chance.

“This will stabilize me, it’s the next step in life,” said the Vail Resorts employee.

It shows how scarce affordable housing is in the valley that people are in line for “700 square foot apartments that aren’t even really affordable,” said Somerville.

The West End has 12 studio and one-bedroom units selling for $180,000 to $190,000. The largest, 3-bedroom units are selling for more than $430,000.

Edwards resident Liz Spanel was second in line and had not planned to arrive at 9 a.m. on Wednesday. She stopped by the office on the way to work and saw Wade was already there.

“I want one of the one-bedrooms, and there aren’t very many, so you have to be one of the first few in line,” she said.

Her sister, who lives in Denver, told her she was crazy to be waiting a day before to buy a condo, she said.

“She has a 2-bedroom, 2-bath, 2,000-sqaure-foot house for less than a unit here,” Spanel said.

Vail resident Jon Katz was in line. He wants to trade his Vail home for a bigger condo downvalley, he said.

“It’s worth a day of your life if you’re going to be living there for 10 years,” said Katz, who was in line for a 2-bedroom home. “This shows the commitment people are willing to make.”

Many in line said they had been looking for a home for a while. Spanel said she has lived in the valley her whole life, but had not seriously thought about buying a home until the West End came up.

“I’d been looking off and on because it just wasn’t an attainable goal. There has been nothing for sale in Miller Ranch, and there’s no way I’d afford a free market (home) on my own,” she said.

Glasser said he has been on the Miller Ranch waiting list for two years. If he can get a West End home, he said it will give him time to save up money.

The West End homes will be completed in 2009 and 2010.

“It’s frustrating finding a place here,” he said. “It’s hard knowing you only have one income, and you can’t afford anything. But it’s the Vail valley.”

Edwards resident Sophie Ozaneaux has lived on-and-off in the valley for 17 years, but “missed the boat” when prices were affordable, she said.

“There’s a real need for this,” she said of the affordable homes. “This is still expensive for me. I’m working three jobs to afford it.”

Somerville agreed that the label “affordable” was a stretch.

“For people in their 30s and single, it’s so hard to do,” she said. “It’s sad that we have to camp out to purchase a home.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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