Gold Run was one of four projects to receive the award at the Housing Colorado Now! Conference held in Vail on Oct. 13. Housing Colorado is an organization with a network of over 6,000 members that works in Colorado to generate a wide number and range of affordable housing opportunities. Since 1990 its Eagle Award has celebrated extraordinary accomplishments and outstanding leadership in housing and support services.
Because the award had never been given to a rural community – nor has it ever been given to a community on the Western Slope – Telluride Mayor Stu Fraser said he was surprised that Gold Run, even though it was a finalist, had won the award. With Fraser in Vail to accept the award were San Miguel County Commissioner Elaine Fischer and San Miguel Regional Housing Authority Executive Director Shirley Diaz.
“In Telluride, what we have attempted to do over the past ten years is not build projects but build neighborhood communities and homes for people who want to have an active part in our community,” Fraser said. “Our single-minded focus in building housing is to make sure it is for the community so people can have the roots they need to grow their lives here in Telluride.”
The 18-unit Gold Run neighborhood, located on the east side of Telluride, represents the first affordable housing project built jointly by the Town of Telluride and San Miguel County. It has been subsidized jointly, with the county donating most of the land and the town donating land along with a $1,100,000 cash subsidy. The total cost for the project was $6,750,00 and all funding for the complex has been locally subsidized with no federal financial involvement. Both governmental entities partnered with the Telluride R-1 School District to provide one unit for the district’s housing needs as well.
Gold Run consists of “for sale,” price and appreciation-capped, deed restricted single-family homes and duplexes located at the eastern boundary of Telluride. In 2008, the town and county began the process to entitle the property for housing development, completing the subdivision, annexation, and zoning processes, and the bulk of the public improvements by 2009. These resulted in a continuation of the residential neighborhood pattern in Telluride, and included new park land adjacent to the San Miguel River, an extension of the region’s river trail system, a new transit stop and turnaround that enabled the local transit system to provide regular transit service for the first time to the east end of Telluride, and a site for small childcare facility, for which construction is tentatively planned for next year.
The town and county employed three independent local contractor/architect teams for the design and construction of the individual units. This approach, according to Fraser, avoids the appearance of a single development trying to “look” different. Though many buildings were similarly sized, the design variety is real, both inside and out. By using different contractors, a greater number of local companies were involved in the project’s construction, providing needed work during this recessionary time and because the individual construction contracts were smaller due to breaking the project into three teams, bonding and security requirements were lower so that smaller general contractors could compete for the project, thus keeping the project more “locally” constructed than past efforts for similarly sized projects.
“We spent over two years on Gold Run and did everything with local funding,” Fraser said. “Everyone that was involved did everything from help pick out its colors to making sure the three local architects and contractors were different. It ended up being this delightful place for people to live. It’s wonderful and that’s what set us a part. When I look back at the winners [of the Eagle Award], we were the only winners that had this type of plan in place.”