Lamar Stands to Receive $5M from State A.G. for Housing Rehab Project

 

The City of Lamar stands to receive $5 million from the state Attorney General’s office which will be used to either demolish or upgrade as many as 133 housing units within the city limits. City Administrator, Steve Kil, and Dr. Linda Lujan, President of Lamar Community College, provided details to the Prowers Economic Prosperity board members during their most recent monthly meeting.

Kil said the housing assessment plan, known as COPERR, stands for Colorado Partnership for Education and Rural Revitalization. Kil had briefed the Lamar City Council on the project several months ago, stating that the $5 million had been earmarked through the AG’s office for the six counties in southeast Colorado. He told the PEP board June 15th, that Lamar had qualified for a total of $5M and the other cities, such as La Junta or Trinidad, had until June 15th to make their own presentations for separate funding.

“We expect to receive some parameters for moving forward for this project and we expect some good things to come from it,” he remarked. Dr. Lujan explained the community colleges in the region will be invited to participate, developing a training program for students in a building program. “Our best idea at this point is affordable, three-bedroom, ranch-style houses which will be constructed on a slab.” She added that the proposal should be approved by the end of this month with the goal to either rehabilitate real estate in Lamar or also construct the new homes. “We’re excited for more construction workers to develop in the community at a time when we’re beginning local housing development,” she stated.

Angie Cue, Lamar’s Community Development Director, and Craig Brooks, Chief Building Inspector, had been compiling a list of potential units in the city for the project and came up with 133 potential residences. Kil said, “These are in very, very bad shape and can be either torn down or remodeled. Our estimated cost for this is a touch under $5 million and our funding, if okayed by the Attorney General’s office, will help develop the program with our community colleges. We can start training a workforce through college for gainful and meaningful employment.”

County Commissioner, Wendy Buxton Andrade, wanted to know how the profits from future sales or equity would be handled. Kil said the city can file an action in court to demolish a property and usually, nine times out of ten, the property owner will surrender the home to the city and be done with it. If the new home sells for around, $120,000 the college could collect the proceeds. He explained that portion of the project is a work in progress. “Nobody’s done this before and we’re still exploring ideas, but the general idea is to keep the program funded through the proceeds.” Dr. Lujan offered that the AG’s office could seed the first property and the equity or profit would go into a rolling fund for future projects. Kil said the city’s building department can expect to be involved with supervision of student construction and inspections as a project moves forward.

On a similar note, Kil said the city is continuing work with developing the Main Café for a potential buyer and he’s been in talks with a developer for the demolition of the Troy Motel on South Main Street. An estimated 30 housing units are proposed for the five new housing developments which are also moving forward in separate, commercially-oriented ventures with several developers.

In other PEP developments, Cheryl Sanchez from the Small Business Development Association and a PEP board member, is taking over temporarily as the Executive Director of the organization. Traegon Marquez, the PEP representative from Granada told the board there has been interest in his community in developing an RV park off Highway 50. Angie Cue, Lamar Partnership Incorporated Director, said her group has received a grant to hel purchase of Personal Protective Equipment and public safety procedures for any local business and the funds need to be used by the end of the year. Interested parties can contact her. The next PEP board meeting is set for July 20th at Noon.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of GranadaCity of LamarCountyEconomyFeaturedHousingUtilities

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