Riverview renovation complete in Eagle-Vail | VailDaily.com

Riverview renovation complete in Eagle-Vail

CVR Riverview KA 9-22-11

EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado – There was nothing wrong with Riverview that a faith healer and a wrecking ball couldn’t have cured.

Turns out they didn’t need the wrecking ball, but the faith came in handy.

Eagle County Thursday closed that chapter and reopened Riverview, the county’s only federally subsidized low-income housing project.

The grand opening ended a three-year $17 million renovation, almost all paid for through federal grants and loans.

Before the renovation, if Riverview had been a rock star it would have been Keith Richards’ less careful older brother.

“We were rightfully getting pressure from residents and neighbors,” Jon Stavney, Eagle County commissioner.

Stavney used to earn his living in the construction industry. He toured Riverview shortly after his election three years ago, and just before the renovation started. He described the back-then Riverview as “dilapidated.”

Three years, $17 million dollars – none directly from Eagle County taxpayers, Stavney said – and 180 local jobs later, Riverview reopened.

“This renovation added 30 years of useful life to this facility,” Stavney said.

Hector Ordonez has seen both sides of Riverview. He lived there with his parents while attending high school, then went off to college at the University of Nevada Las Vegas where he majored in accounting and economics.

Now he’s back as Riverview’s resident manager and he and Jose Alvarado help run the place. They helped slog the project through the federal funding jungle.

“We worked so hard, but it was worth it. This was truly a labor of love,” Ordonez said.

Speaking of labor, local contractor R.A. Nelson hired all local subcontractors, employing 180 people for the project’s three-year lifespan.

“We do that on every project,” said Travis Bossow with R.A. Nelson. “We use local subs every chance we get.”

R.A. Nelson has 36 years with some of those people, Bossow said, and it helped keep some of them in business through this tough economy.

They earned their money, Bossow said.

The project was supposed to start in April 2010, but stuff happens, and HUD was slow with its approval and the start date changed to August. Their deadline to finish did not change.

“It was a team effort,” Bossow said.

Before construction started, all the residents had to be moved out. They landed in Riveredge, the Tarnes, Lake Creek in Edwards and Buffalo Ridge in Avon.

When construction was finally complete, they were moved back in.

The county bought Riverview from local developer Fred Green in 1999 for $5.7 million. Green built Riverview in the 1970s as a HUD low income project and his tax breaks were about to expire.

He was shopping it around as a private-market condo complex when the county bought it.

A local Head Start mom who lived in Riverview organized some other Riverview families and involved the county commissioners at the time – Johnnette Phillips, James Johnson and Tom Stone, recalled Tsu Wolin Brown, who helped run the Head Start program when all this was happening.

The county bought it and immediately spent $1.3 million in maintenance.

The Eagle Riverview Affordable Housing Corporation was set up in 1999 to acquire the property and to funnel money from federal grants and other sources to Riverview.

Because rents are controlled at Riverview, tenants only pay 30 percent of their stated income in rent.

The federal government subsidizes the difference between that 30 percent and the market rate for each apartment, $1,250 for a two-bedroom and $1,510 for a three bedroom.

Low income in Eagle County is $50,220 for a four-person household, according to the county’s area median income statistics with Housing and Urban Development, the federal agency that handles Riverview.

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

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