The accumulation of dozens of housing units at the corner of Chelton Road and Murray Boulevard in southeast Colorado Springs looks like a tiny homes village to some, and a mobile home park to others.
But the developer and builder, Goodwin Knight, describes it as the start of a cottage community that will increase the city's inventory of affordable housing.
"I choose to call it more available housing," said Bryan Kniep, the company's vice president of planning and community development. "Affordable housing carries a stigma, that it's for low income people. This is housing that fills a need and covers several different markets."
Goodwin Knight will place 68 cottages at the site of the future community a block farther east on Chelton. They will be studio, one- and two-bedroom units.
"They'll be available to people who want a smaller home and for people who want to move up to a larger unit," Kniep said. "Monthly rents will start at $800 for the studio and $1,000 to $1,100 for the larger units."
The homes are built in Pueblo, transported to Colorado Springs and will gradually be placed on concrete foundations. Work began late last summer and is scheduled for completion this summer.
Many builders and developers are reluctant or unwilling to build affordable housing because the profit margins are less than that offered by the traditional and continually booming homebuilding market, and because of strong community opposition often expressed to it.
The project, called The Cottages at Sand Creek, is believed to be the first of its kind in the city -- one that isn't using government funding, is supported by private investors and is expected to generate enough profit to make it worthwhile.
"By using modular construction, it allows us to control costs in a lot of cases," Kniep said. "We're purchasing in a large-discount bulk. Our purchasing power goes way up in these cases and we're able to pass those savings on, I think, to the consumer."
He also explained how the project received approval from city officials and surrounding neighbors.
"Our density's a little bit lower than you would get out of an apartment project on a site like this, but at the same time it's a little bit more palatable to a neighborhood that's all single-family homes," he said. "So we saw this as a nice compromise."
The project is bordered by traditional homes to the east, apartments and condominiums to the south, and industrial business to the north and west.
Many neighbors said they like the project. Among them is Melissa Jones, who has been homeless, unemployed and renting a room at a friend's house for more than a year.
"The last time I looked at apartments, they were so expensive," she said. "I think these cottages are cute. A studio would be good for me because I've lived in one before. I don't need much. Just a safe place to call home that I can afford."
Kniep said nearly a third of the 68 units are already spoken for.
Goodwin Knight is working on two similar projects -- a $20 million cottage village on North Cascade Avenue expected to have 168 units and open by the end of the year, and a $13 million cottage community near the Sand Creek project, providing 116 units and expected to open this fall.
The company goes before the city council next week to seek approval for an apartment building in the 500 block of West Colorado Avenue.