Living in Paradise

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Affordable housing development celebrates one-year anniversary

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  • Crested Butte artist and gallery owner Nicholas Reti said his home has allowed him to work where he lives and expand his business. Kate Gienapp
    Crested Butte artist and gallery owner Nicholas Reti said his home has allowed him to work where he lives and expand his business. Kate Gienapp

It’s no secret that there’s a shortage of affordable housing at the north end of the valley, but Gunnison Valley locals are still celebrating a little slice of paradise in the Town of Crested Butte at the Paradise Park subdivision.

The subdivision has been under development for nearly 20 years. Today there are a total of 70 units dedicated to deed-restricted housing for locals who live and work in the Gunnison Valley.

Home to members of town staff, public works employees, firefighters, artists and teachers the subdivision is one of most densely populated neighborhoods in the Town of Crested Butte both because most buildings are multi-family and because residents live there year-round.

One year ago, lottery winners began moving into 27 new units on the town’s Block 76, which is on Gothic Avenue and adjacent to the north side of Rainbow Park.

Thanks to former Town of Crested Butte Community Development Director Michael Yerman and other town staff, each building was officially platted with a jam band or bluegrass group name. There are the Widespread Panic Townhomes, the Leftover Salmon Townhomes, the Yonder Mountain Townhomes and the Trout Steak Townhomes.

All were deed restricted for households who had at least one full-time employee working in Gunnison County. That means a couple who are employed at the school district would qualify, but if, for example, they quit their local gigs and took on remote work in Denver, they would no longer be eligible to own their deedrestricted home.

The stretch of homes serves as one of the few neighborhoods where Gunnison Valley locals can live and work in the Town of Crested Butte.

“It’s been one of the most amazing things to happen in my life,” said Nicholas Reti, who moved into the neighborhood this past year.

A local artist and owner of the Oh Be Joyful Gallery, Reti said it’s hard to imagine being able to live at the north end as an artist in this day and age.

Derrick Nehrenberg, his wife and two children also made the move to Paradise Park after living in a rental in Skyland.

“It was the only opportunity to live in town,” Nehrenberg said.

“We’re really thankful to the Town of Crested Butte,” Nehrenberg said. “It’s a great little community!’

Lawson Yow, manager of Bonez restaurant in town said he was happy to move from renting to ownership in the place where he works. Yow said the issue hits close to home with his work as there have been multiple times when he wasn’t able to hire employees after they were unable to secure housing.

Richard Paylor was also happy to find affordable housing in a time when real estate prices are skyrocketing.

Paylor, who works at the Adaptive Sports Center as a coordinator of interns and logistics said he feels lucky to have secured a home at the north end of the valley.

“It’s great, I have friends that are still in the rental market and I see them losing housing,” Paylor said. “I know how hard it is to try and find a rental these days, so I feel very fortunate!’

Like many other locals, Reti was a victim to rising rents that were making his costs of living unsustainable. Prior to moving to Paradise Park, Reti resided near Clark’s Market. But in the five years he lived there, his rents nearly doubled from $775 to $1450.

“If I was going to stay in Crested Butte and own a business I had to figure out how to keep my living costs from increasing,” Reti said.

Reti said he’s since been able to invest in his career rather than put all the profits of his business into rent.

“It’s also meant I’ve been able to do things that I’ve put off for years,” Reti said. “I’ve been able to turn around and actually hire people during a pandemic.”

Ideal for an artist, his home has more than 10 windows for natural light and lovely views to match for inspiration.

Seeing his business grow and being able to afford the cost of living have made Reti realize how much affordable housing is needed.

Reti also acknowledged the decades of work by town council members and local leaders who made Paradise Park possible.

His new deed-restricted home allows Reti to own a home in Crested Butte at about half the cost of what it would cost to rent on the open market.

While he knew the affordable housing would have benefits, he never anticipated how the security and savings would change his life. The trade-off of maintaining the home’s affordability for decades to come and conceding what many people consider a financial asset was well worth it, Reti said.

“It’s not just keeping those who bought our homes here in town, it’s keeping our investments here in terms of where we spend our money and our lives,” Reti said.

(Kate Gienapp can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or kate@gunnisontimes.com.)