The Salida City Council on Tuesday approved a plan to build 200 tiny homes on a riverside parcel, marking what could become the nation’s largest tiny-home community and a showcase for a potential solution to Colorado’s housing crisis.
“I think most people are standing back to see if this thing will be successful,” Salida’s interim town manager Steven Rabe said. “It’s a pretty novel concept and from Salida’s perspective it offers a lot of other opportunities that other developments might not be able to provide.”
La Junta-based Sprout Tiny Homes wants to build 200 rentals — ranging from 200 to 800 square feet — on 19 acres the company owns along the Arkansas River. Salida annexed the property in March. The homes will be on permanent foundations. The River View at Cleora neighborhood will include a community center with a catering kitchen, fitness center, community garden, storage units, 5 acres of parks and trails. Rents will run $750 to $1,400, which includes all utilities. About a third of the units will be available as short-term rentals, alleviating the pressure in Salida, where a little more than 100 homes are available for vacation rental.
The tiny homes are considered “attainable housing” more than “affordable housing.” But 12 percent of the units will be set aside with reduced rent for local workers. A recent housing assessment in Chaffee County showed a growing need for workforce housing, mirroring a housing crunch across rural and urban Colorado, where home prices are climbing more quickly than incomes. Salida, with its population around 5,400, has the highest average home price in Chaffee County; around $319,000. But the average wage in the county is $33,143 and the average rent in Salida is between $1,200 and $1,400. The housing assessment found the county needed 556 new homes over the next 10 years to meet existing and future needs.
Sprout Tiny Homes founder and president Rod Stambaugh — who calls himself “chief Sproutologist” — said Salida residents “definitely are on board” with the tiny-home community plan.
Rabe agreed that residents and council members were receptive to the project. Rabe said there were no public comments at the meeting Tuesday.
“I guess that’s indicative that people are fairly supportive,” he said. “There is this whole conversation — not only in the state but in the country — about whether the tiny-home concept will work. I think Salida is the type of community that will embrace the concept. It’s just the demographic here. They are more willing to consider non-traditional concepts and they are certainly not traditional.”