community of ‘little houses’ comes to Woodland Park | Economic news


By Faith Miller

The developers of Woodland Park believe that a planned “cottage” community called Village at Tamarac is the answer to many people’s cottage dreams. But think of the ‘dreams’ in terms of lifestyle, not cost – affordable housing experts say developments like these aren’t for those looking for a deal.

The Village at Tamarac will offer 53 models, explains Pete LaBarre, one of the developers behind the project. The houses are a little too big to be considered “little houses”, which normally exceed 400 square feet.

Manufactured by Champion Home Builders, each tiny home – 500 square feet with a 500 square foot crawl space – will cost around $ 115,000. While this might sound like a good deal, home buyers won’t own the lots their homes are on, and each site will cost an additional $ 600 to $ 700 per month to rent. In other words, it’s a similar setup to buying a mobile home, except the home cannot be moved elsewhere.

This could be a problem for some. Residents of mobile home parks who have a fixed or low income may find it difficult to cope with rent increases. And not all trailers can be moved to other land if rents become unaffordable, which can lead to foreclosure. Of course, houses that are on foundations, such as those that will be built in the Village, cannot be moved.

But LaBarre says his tenants are better protected than many trailer owners. It offers all buyers a 99-year lease, and while there will be rent increase provisions, LaBarre says they are included to “protect us against very high inflation.” It’s also worth noting that developers won’t have any interest in mortgages because they don’t lend to tenants, which sometimes happens in mobile home parks.

“Our passion is to try to offer more affordable and more accessible housing, in this kind of price range where there just isn’t any,” says LaBarre.

But Jamie Pemberton, executive director of Habitat for Humanity in Teller County, says developments like these will not solve the region’s affordable housing problem. (A 2016 assessment identified the need for at least 741 rental, labor, senior and other housing units in Woodland Park.)

Suppose you can put a 20% down payment of $ 23,000 on one of the small houses. If you have good credit, you could get a 30-year fixed loan and pay around $ 522 per month. But when you add the $ 600 monthly batch fee to that, you’re paying $ 1,122 per month to live in your tiny home for 30 years.

And theoretically, you should continue to pay $ 600 per month to lease the land (although LaBarre says the developers hope to sell the village of Tamarac back to the community in five to seven years).

If you bought a home for $ 230,000, on the other hand, and made the same down payment of $ 23,000, you could get a 30-year fixed loan of about $ 1,079 per month. (To be fair, it’s hard to find a home in Woodland Park for $ 230,000 or less.)

“For home buyers, [leasing land] is not what we recommend, ”Pemberton says. “… In fact, we advise our families that they can let themselves be drawn into this reflection. “

Susan Cummings, Homebuyer Services Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity, adds that tiny houses aren’t very family friendly: “Where do you change diapers? When someone gets sick, how do you deal with it?

But LaBarre says that choosing to buy a small home “isn’t usually about affordability. It’s a question of lifestyle. He expects many Village at Tamarac residents to pay cash for homes, as do many who live in Peak View Park, a Woodland Park RV, and a tiny house he co-owns.

“People who live at Peak View Park like to live in a smaller space,” says LaBarre. “… We spend less time cleaning the house, less time maintaining the house. So this translates, in their opinion and in my opinion, into a better quality of life. “

LaBarre says the overwhelming demand for space at Peak View Park has led him and a few other developers, like the M3XP2 LLC Group, to come up with small house development.

They couldn’t expand the cottage community at Peak View Park, LaBarre says, because the Teller County building code no longer allows long-term residence in towable homes. Because the small houses in the village of Tamarac will be secured by foundations, the development can follow the same building code as the typical housing estates.

The developers have received preliminary approval from Woodland Park, LaBarre says, and plan to close the property in February or March in time to have homes available in August.

Interest is growing – as of January 17, there were already 34 people on the waiting list. LaBarre says their demographics parallel those of residents of Peak View Park, which is most popular with single women aged 45 to 65. By eliminating short-term rental properties, LaBarre says that 54 percent of the lots in this park are occupied by single women, with and without children. The women he spoke with said they were drawn to a sense of independence, community security and a simpler lifestyle.

Wendy Hartshorn, Vice President of Marketing for the Village of Tamarac, moves to Peak View Park to start “a new chapter”.

“I started researching tiny houses years ago, so it was kind of the dream,” she says. “I am starting from scratch and I am able to simplify and reduce costs. And I’m really excited.

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the Business Journal’s sister publication, the Colorado Springs Independent.

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