On the morning of May 11, the normally calm and quiet neighborhood surrounding 222 E. Henrietta St. was shattered by the sound of hammers hammering, generators generating, and rock & roll music booming from an unseen source.
Two hundred and eighteen volunteers from Home Depot’s, “Team Depot Project” and “The Home Depot Foundation” were on hand to work a four hour shift to begin renovating the abandoned Lofthouse Motel on Henrietta St.
The Cultural Center parking lot across the street from the Lofthouse was a nice flat surface for volunteers who hammered together big wall partitions that will be used in future phases of the project.
Meanwhile at the job site, volunteers were busy tearing out old landscape vegetation, dismantling railroad tie walls, carefully taking apart rock faced garden walls, removing siding bats to create a flat surface for the new siding to be installed later, removing old air conditioners, removing the old windows and a host of other tasks.
Joe Wimberley, senior manager for Team Depot said, “These volunteers represent the suppliers of Home Depot. They come from all across the country and are in the area for the Team Depot convention. Part of their commitment to the Home Depot Project includes them actively participating in the projects we undertake.”
The family crest plaques of the original owner, Jack Maher, which hung on the iconic clock tower and second story hand railing, were carefully removed and presented to him as a memento.
Habitat for Humanity (HFH) entered into a partnership with property owner Stand Firm to renovate the Lofthouse from its original 24 unit motel to a 9 unit condominium complex. The agreement allows for HFH to do the work necessary and pay Stand Firm as each condo units is sold. HFH did not have to pay any up-front cost for the property which made the project possible.
The entire project will take about two months and is expected to be completed in late June or early July so families will be able to move in sometime around September.
Woodland Park City Council has been actively trying to solve the affordable housing crisis in the city and HFH is on the front lines of solving this issue.
Jamie Caperton, executive director for Habitat for Humanity of Teller County, said, “Our goal is to begin to reduce the shortfall of available rental and for sale housing in our community to meet the needs of our workforce.”
Habitat for Humanity has been building 3-4 single family homes per year in the county. “This project adds nine more units to that number in this building year bringing our total to 14 families placed this year: Three in Cripple Creek, two in Sherwood Forest and now nine in Woodland Park,” said Caperton.
HFH has received 10 applications so far for the Loft House units. Caperton said, “We would like to double the number of applications we now have.”
It is a misconception to think these homes are given away to the needy. Caperton said, “In order for a family to qualify for affordable housing they must meet the 30-60 % AMI (Area Median Income) criteria which classifies them of being in the low to medium income bracket. Families must qualify for the loan, they must complete the Homebuyer Education Course and they must complete 300-400 hours of ‘sweaty equity’ on the project,” she said.
Caperton would like to get applications from public service workers (teachers, fire, police, etc.) “We are specifically targeting those demographics and veterans who qualify,” You must work or live in Teller County to apply.
The Lofthouse has two units dedicated for veteran applicants and one unit will be handicap accessible. The remodel will have 1, 2 and 3 bedroom units available. Prices will range from $75,000 for a 1 bedroom to $115,000 for the 3 bedroom.
The units will be unfurnished, but Whirlpool will be donating a full set of appliances, CenturyLink will be wiring the units for TV and Wifi, and there will be central laundry facility for the building.
Home Depot’s “Team Depot” and The Home Depot Foundation has donated over $135 million to date for veteran housing and has created housing for over 25,000 American vets
All materials that are salvaged during the tear out phase of the project will be recycled in other HFH projects or are for sale to the public. Unfortunately, the Teller County branch of the Habitat for Humanity Restore recently closed, so buyers will have to go to the El Paso County branch located at 411 S. Wahsatch Ave. Colorado Springs.
Volunteers are always needed. If you would like to volunteer you can contact the Habitat for Humanity of Teller County office at: 700 Valley View, Woodland Park or their web site @ www.tellerhabitat.org.
Habitat is also in need of donations. The dollar goal for fund raising is set at $1,08 million and includes both building acquisition and construction. Donations will be used to cover upfront construction costs. “When houses are sold the proceeds from the sales will reseed the construction fund for future builds.” said Caperton.