We have seen quite a few people in the community writing about the proposal for the development of rental/affordable housing in the project now named The Corner at Brush Creek. My name has been thrown about a bit as the real estate broker involved in the purchase of the property and, as I have been involved in this proposal from the beginning, I feel it is appropriate that I comment in a more public way. Listening to comments made during the public meeting at the Center for the Arts I realized that there is much misinformation, speculation, fear, theories of conspiracy and general concern about this proposal. This should be expected and it is right for this community to be concerned. My concern is that we, as a community, finally do something to address an issue that I feel is critically important to all of us. The governmental entities have struggled in finding solutions to our community housing needs and now are suggesting tax increases that will take years to materialize into anything significant towards an immediate need. Getting private money to address the issue is a godsend in my opinion. I feel that I need to embrace this idea. Others have asked for great subsidies in order to address the affordable housing issue.
We know the needs addressed in the Gunnison Valley Housing Needs Assessment conducted last year by Melanie Rees and her team. Anyone who has read her report knows that the issues are complicated and governments have a difficult time coming up with solutions because their focus is on many other things and resourses and money are hard to come by. Getting private money involved is a great idea but is simply not feasible for the most part. Gary Gates read the Needs Assessment and said this is my business and perhaps I can help the community in this need. He has a home, business office, gallery, restaurant and family here.
I embraced Gary Gates’ idea of using his private money to address this need. The challenge was to find an appropriate and feasible place to do it. We explored every option including those mentioned recently in letters to the editor. Each had pitfalls making them less feasible. We knew that this location would not be popular with everyone and particularly property owners in the immediate vicinity. Gary Gates put together a team of local business people to help in coming up with the very best plan possible to utilize this site. I have been extremely impressed with the amount of thought and energy that has gone into designing this project. Every aspect from design, layout, utilities, transportation, parking, traffic, dogs, parks, landscaping, bikes and density have been discussed and hashed around by the team and continues to be deliberated. I trust that this will all be realized when the work on the plan is presented in the public forum. I also expect the plan as it was presented to the county will not be the final plan.
Density seems to be a huge concern as we expected. It is not that this kind of density has not been seen before. The Skyland Lodge incorporates 55 units on 1.36 acres or 40 units per acre and is 44 ft high. This is much greater density than anything being proposed and it is directly across the street from The Club. The team used the Gunnison County guidelines pertaining to density in its design. It is true that we started believing that we were working with 17 acres as that is how it appeared on Gunnison County Mapping and turns out to be 14+ acres but still within guidelines. People have to realize that density is a double edged sword. We have to take advantage of the opportunity to address needs for even a greater number of units and it has to make economic sense for Gatesco. Having the number of restricted affordable units is amazing in my estimation. We should work on this and make certain that we do not let this opportunity go away.
The issue of location is another that has been widely discussed. We found that there simply are not many appropriate locations in the valley. You need to be close to infrastructure and services and be a place where people will want to live. We have envisioned this as a bicycle and pedestrian community where one would not need to have a car. The Deli Trail into town is very convenient for bikes and walking. The Transportation Center should serve to move people to jobs and services. It has been the goal of the team to not make this just another housing project as other communities may have seen but a vibrant place where people will want to live. We need everyones ideas to insure that it develops this way!
What I would like for people to know is that this is not some fly-by-night plan thrown together on a whim but rather a tremendous opportunity never seen before in our community. It is probably not a perfect plan but working together we can make it the best it can be in addressing these important issues. This is why everyones input is needed we are thankful for it! I am excited that residents are getting involved in this discussion and hopeful that we can make the project work for Gary Gates’ organization and our community. I am available to anyone that my want to give input. Cheers!