The Buena Vista School Board continued to discuss the possibility of entering into a ground lease for property near the district administration building that would be used for employee housing and a daycare space.

Board member Jessica Crites shared the results of a meeting she had with attorney Casey Martin and Chaffee County Community Foundation executive director Joseph Teipel, who brought the concept of the ground lease model before the board last year.

The idea is for the district to lease its property on Court Street to an independent developer who would construct a multi-use building.

“Pretty much, we can dictate whatever is allowed,” Crites said. “The ground lease could spell out any little thing we wanted.”

The proposal Teipel made before the board roughly a year ago would build a multi-story, multi-use development with at least 20,000-square-feet of commercial space for use by the school district, as well as an early childhood facility for children younger than 4.

Upstairs, the facility would bring 20 to 30 affordable rental and ownership housing units, Teipel said.

Chaffee Housing Trust was named as a potential partner in the concept, meaning the units would be deed-restricted to be sold to low-income residents in perpetuity. They would likely be reserved for residents making 80 percent of the average median income or less.

Teipel’s proposal suggested that the Community Foundation could purchase the land on which the structure would be built, the grassy field located just northwest of the district administration building – currently occupied by little other than a solitary stone archway – and bind the project under a ground lease.

At the board’s meeting Tuesday, members discussed the possibility of creating a new nonprofit that would own the building and manage the various grants and tax credits that would fund the building with minimal burden on the district or its taxpayers.

“I really do think that this is something that the board should start having a lot of discussions on, ‘How we are going to attract teachers in the future,” Tracy Storms asked. 

“If you look at some of our teachers in the next 2 to 5 years, we have several teachers that are going to be retiring, and if they can’t afford to live here, it’s not going to be very appealing for somebody to apply … It is something we’re going to have to start looking at. 

“I had another former board member tell me that they were on the board when (the district) actually purchased this property over here,” she said, “and the reason why they purchased it is that they were starting to look into the future at what this was going to look like, and building apartments there for housing for employees, for our teachers. Because, being in the real estate market, it is crazy, crazy here what people are paying for houses.”

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