Grand Lake trustees are considering a $200,000 investment in a workforce housing proposal brought forward by a local developer to renovate a lodge into 21 units.
During the Dec. 13 workshop, developer Ed McCarthy presented the board with a plan to turn the Lone Eagle Lodge on Grand Avenue into one-bedroom units for local employees.
To do so, McCarthy told the board he was seeking $200,000 from the town to subsidize the cost of adding kitchenettes to 17 rooms and converting a storage area into a two-bedroom unit. He told the board that he would be personally investing around $2 million in the project.
“I’m prepared to put a significant dent in the housing problem if the town is willing to work with me,” McCarthy said. “I’m flexible on terms and I’m 100% committed.”
McCarthy said he’s under contract for the lodge already, but needs the town’s financial help to make the project a reality.
McCarthy’s property management company would plan to manage the units and rent them at market rate to county employees for five years. McCarthy said rents would be $1,295 per month for the one-bedrooms and $1,495 for the two-bedroom, which includes utilities.
Additionally, McCarthy said he plans to remove the gas station at the lodge and rent the commercial space.
Originally, McCarthy also asked for reduced water rates and property taxes on the project as well as the $200,000, but trustees seemed unlikely to accept those terms, so McCarthy dropped them from the proposal.
However, since McCarthy’s workshop presentation was the first the board had heard of the proposal, trustees wanted more information and noted decisions can’t be made during workshops.
“This is a matter of financial discussion so, while I think the audience would love to see the board negotiate with the developer right here, I don’t think that’s the most effective way for all of us to achieve what we want to accomplish,” Mayor Steve Kudron said. “You have spent an awful lot of time crunching the numbers, we’ve only heard them once.”
McCarthy expressed frustration that the town wasn’t more enthusiastic about his idea, pressing trustees to guarantee a decision will be made at the Jan. 10 meeting.
“Frankly, I’m shocked and a little upset that I’m giving the town an unbelievable opportunity to put a dent in affordable housing, so where are we at,” he said. “Where’s the resistance when someone says I’m going to bring $2 million in and I’m asking for a $200,000 incentive?”
Trustees explained they were interested in the proposal, but needed to be responsible stewards of the town’s money and hear from their constituents.
Trustee Cindy Southway said she would rather use the town’s money to seek grants and other funding sources for affordable housing.
“I’m more interested in leveraging money, so I would rather see us be able to apply for state and federal funds for affordable housing,” Southway said. “I just don’t want to fund one project and then not be able to fund another one.”
Other trustees felt negotiations would be too complicated to make a decision so soon. Still, the board told McCarthy they would continue discussions on Jan. 10.
“So the question is 21 units for five years, what’s that worth to the town or the board,” Town Manager John Crone said.