COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Another affordable housing project has been approved by the Colorado Springs City Council with the hope of helping renters find relief in the city's hot housing market.
On Tuesday, the council unanimously approved the development at Colorado Avenue and Chestnut Street, which is being done by Goodwin Knight -- the same group building three other affordable housing projects across the city.
The four-story, 50-unit apartment building will fill what is now a parking lot and is believed to be the city's first affordable housing project on the west side.
"The little bit of negative feedback is just the worry that it's this big, new building, big eyesore, big block of the view of (Pikes) Peak, I guess, said Paes 164. an artist at the Fallen Heroes tattoo parlor next door. But I think it's going to be cool."
John Garrison, a former west side resident, expressed mixed emotions about the project.
"That size of a building is going to be a stress on the local community," he said. "But that may very well be the future over here."
You may remember when we reported on the first of those projects, going in near the intersection of Murray Boulevard and Chelton Road.
Goodwin Knight plans to charge between $800 and $1,200 in monthly rent for a variety of studio, one- and two-bedroom units.
That makes them attractive to Sonya Barnstable, 65, who has resided in an assisted living facility for the past year. She is one of several people who contacted KRDO NewsChannel 13 seeking information after our initial report aired last month.
"There is not anything decent under $2,000 (per month)," she said. "If they're $1,500, there's something wrong with them.
A fellow tenant, Michael Pine, 61, agrees.
"Sometimes a cheaper (rent) can actually cost you a lot more in utilities than a nicer place where everything fits well," he said.
Steve Posey, who administrates federal housing programs for the city, said he's in contact with 12 developers and builders who want to provide similar housing.
"What's different about these projects is they get no federal funding," he said. "The developers are investing in them. They're using modular design and construction, so they can save money and build faster."
Posey said the Goodwin Knight units, specifically, will be slightly smaller than at market-rate apartments.
That's a fair trade-off, said Beth Hall Roalstadt, executive director of Homeward Pikes Peak, a local housing agency.
"Making something available that's $800 a month is helping people with a lower price point," she said. "And while it may not be ideal and spacious, it's dignified and can be beautiful, and if it's safe and comfortable, then it's a great place to live."
Yet another project -- expected to break ground this summer -- is Draper Commons, to be built on a vacant parcel near the southeast downtown intersection of Fountain Boulevard and Wahsatch Avenue.
That project will offer 280 units that are similar to those in the Goodwin Knight projects.
Housing officials said they are gradually meeting the goal of Mayor John Suthers -- announced in 2018 -- to add 1,000 new affordable housing units to the city's inventory over five years.
"We hope this will eventually lead to more affordable houses being built," Posey said. "But that process will take longer."
Roalstad explained why the current projects have been approved without much of the public opposition that often accompanied them.
"More of them are being built in commercial areas instead of residential neighborhoods," she said. "It's all in how you sell them, how you convince people of the need. I think most people realize we need more housing and more of it that's affordable and available."