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We as a community should celebrate that Salida Ridge Apartments have started to accept applications for rental apartments that will be available beginning in June 2022. Ultimately, this will bring to the southern end of the county 48 units for households at 30-50 percent AMI (our area’s median household income (about $15,000-$46,000 a year, depending on family size). This is an excellent example of how a diverse group of entities can come together to benefit the whole community.

Former Mayor P.T. Wood showing off the locally-produced disinfectant produced by a local partnership of Woods Distillery, Elevation Brewing, and Pure Greens, during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when store shortages were rampant. Photo by Jan Wondra.

Salida Ridge will be southern Chaffee County’s second Low Income Tax Credit (LITC) project; the first one was the River Bend Apartments built around 1995. LITC projects are highly competitive, with a number of communities typically vying for them. The criteria include need, what tools the community already has, how active the community is in solving their housing issues, and when the last project was completed, among other things.

Salida, through the hard work of the City Council and Staff over the last several years, was in a prime position to secure this project. Things that had been instituted that helped pave the way are; Salida’s inclusionary housing ordinance, support for the Chaffee Housing Authority and the Chaffee Housing Trust, willingness to give concessions on tap fees, reduced sewer service charges, and prioritization of affordable housing issues.

The City was fortunate to have great partners on this project. Harder-Diesslin Development Group was willing to work with the city in exchanging inclusionary housing credits across both Confluent Park and Angelview Subdivision for the property needed. Commonwealth Development Corporation brought extensive knowledge of these types of projects to the table. The Colorado Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) and the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) brought financing. Finally, the Chaffee Housing Authority (CHA) brings the experience to fill these apartments with qualified applicants.

Salida Ridge incorporates the kind of amenities that are often overlooked in workforce housing projects. Washers and dryers are included in each of the one to three-bedroom energy-efficient units. The apartments include a business center and community space as well as access to interconnected trails and a park. The development seamlessly integrates into the Confluent Park neighborhood, encouraging diversity and community.

After the failure of Salida to follow through on a previous workforce housing development on the Vandaveer property, the successful coordination of grant funding from CHFA and DOLA with commitments from private developers makes Salida Ridge a significant accomplishment. For such a significant development with so many moving parts, bringing the project to fruition in three years represents a major accomplishment in a relatively short timeframe.

As we watch housing getting more expensive by the day and the dream of living in Chaffee County becoming ever harder to grasp, these are the types of cooperative multi-jurisdictional projects that are critical to our valley’s success. However to continue this type of success the CHA will need a steady funding stream and neighbors will need to accept the type of density that allows these projects.

P.T. Wood
Wood’s High Mountain Distillery

Candidate for Chaffee County District 3 Commissioner