CSU, partners break ground on affordable housing project near Timberline Church

Finding affordable housing in the Fort Collins area is an ongoing challenge for Colorado State University employees, but CSU and two partners took a significant step toward alleviating that situation Wednesday when they broke ground on a new apartment development near Timberline Church.

Rendezvous Trail Apartments – a collaboration among CSU, Timberline and Tetrad Real Estate – is a seven-building, 180-unit housing complex that will have one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.

Sixty of those units will be prioritized for CSU employees as attainably priced rental housing, including 48 units priced for those who earn 80% of the “Area Median Income” (AMI), and six units priced at 60% of the AMI.

Employees with shovels

Left to right: Adrian MacDonald, chair of the Classified Personnel Council; Stacey Baumgarn, past chair of the CPC and member of the Housing Task Force; Sarah Olson, chair of the Administrative Professional Council; Christie Mathews, member of the Housing Task Force and the Administrative Professional Council; Audra Montoya-Baker, Employee Housing Programs coordinator. 

Survey spurs more action

Results from an employee housing survey conducted last year showed that CSU needs to continue boosting efforts to make housing more affordable if it wants to recruit and retain a high-quality workforce.

“As a university concerned with equity and with attracting and retaining the best staff and faculty, it matters a great deal that too many of our employees can’t afford to live in the community where they work,” Interim CSU President Rick Miranda said at the groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning. “We know from our Employee Housing Needs Assessment that we already have more than enough demand to fill these 60 units.

“We also know that, over the last decade, our lowest-income employees have been the ones pushed farther and farther from campus, adding the cost of a longer commute to their housing burden. That commute makes it harder to pick up a sick child from school, harder to take part in the life of our campus, and harder just to make ends meet.”

Dary Northrop with sledgehammer

Dary Northrop, senior pastor of Timberline Church. 

‘Just the beginning’

The project and the affordable housing element are the result of a land swap between Timberline and CSU. The first units are expected to be completed in fall 2023.

“Next year, when these apartments are ready for move-in, we’ll be able to see the impact that our collaboration has had on the real lives of real people – our neighbors, friends, and colleagues who need and deserve this assistance,” Miranda said. “But I promise you, this is just the beginning. As long as there is a need, this has to be a shared priority for all of us. We cannot stop here.”

In addition to Miranda, those who spoke at the groundbreaking event before planting ceremonial shovels in the dirt included Timberline Senior Pastor Dary Northrop and Tetrad President and CEO Jordan Berger.

“We are thrilled about this situation,” Northrop said. “We have the best partners ever, and we are really happy to be doing this with you. … As a church, we love neighbors, and we’re going to be good neighbors.”

“We are really proud of this project,” added Berger, crediting much of its success to Brett Anderson, special assistant to CSU System Chancellor Tony Frank. “It’s a small step, but I think it is a good step, and it is a representation of what we hope can be a model where we’re getting different institutions together – private community, public community, religious community – to try to figure out how to solve this problem [of housing affordability].”

Construction team with shovels

Members of the team involved with the construction project take part in the groundbreaking. 

Related efforts

The project is one of several approaches CSU is exploring and pursuing to improve housing affordability for CSU employees. Other efforts include:

  • Partnerships with real estate professionals to offer CSU employees benefits such as commission rebates, discounted inspections or waived application fees.
  • Discounted mortgage rates or waivers on mortgage insurance from lenders. One option is for CSU to serve as a guarantor on loans for employees who don’t have the required 20% down payment. (Canvas Credit Union already offers mortgage discounts to CSU employees.)
  • Matched savings account programs in which CSU would seek grant money to match employee contributions, up to a set amount and for a specific purpose. It would also involve homebuyer education like pre-purchase counseling.

For CSU employees, an Employee Housing Programs website serves as a one-stop shop for resources around affordable housing. In addition to materials on rental housing, home ownership, moving/relocation, financial assistance and other types of support, employees can sign up to receive email updates on housing-related programs, events and other opportunities.

Jordan Berger

Jordan Berger, president and CEO of Tetrad Real Estate.