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Mixed-use building will bring affordable housing, community space to Mancos

A rendering of the mixed-use space in the works on Grand Avenue in Mancos. (Courtesy town of Mancos)
Preliminary work would begin immediately after grant funds are received

The Mancos Common Press has proposed a mixed-use space on Grand Avenue that would offer at least three affordable housing units, an extension of the press and a retail space.

The project, to be dubbed the “Mancos Common,” is in early stages. The Town of Mancos is partnering with the Mancos Common Press to facilitate funding on the design of the project, which will take root on the empty lot next to the press building.

The town recently applied for a $50,000 predevelopment grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

If approved, the grant would go toward consultation for the building.

Regardless of whether the town receives that particular grant, the project will commence, and it will serve a variety of purposes, said Betsy Harrison, secretary and treasurer of the Mancos Common Press and a trustee on the town’s board.

For one, expansion of the Mancos Common Press has been on the horizon since the building was restored in 2018, she said.

The Mancos Common Press has recently hosted more workshops and artists in residence, and has organized what it calls its “Press Club” – which so far has eight members now skilled enough to operate the presses for art projects themselves.

“It’s gone from just a very simple ‘Let's see if we can restore the building’ to something that's really active,” she said.

The extension will allow for more press workspace – and a bathroom.

The proposed building may also help to address a lack of affordable housing in the area.

“This town is in a terrible shape, in terms of both housing prices and rental availability,” Harrison said. “And so the town is happy to partner and do anything it can if there's affordable housing involved.”

Affordable housing is a priority in Mancos, the grant application stated, and “casual conversation” about the project in the community has been positive, although no formal presentation of the project has been given yet.

An excerpt of the grant reads: “... in 2022 there is almost no housing available; the community (Mancos) has been discovered during the COVID-19 pandemic as a high quality of life community within an hour of a regional airport. The community needs to act now to begin building housing stock.”

The town offered a tentative timeline for the project in its grant application. Preliminary work would begin immediately upon receiving funds from the grant, to be completed within five months. Then, the team would raise additional funds through the spring of 2023 and break ground soon after.

“It's a small building, and it's pretty simple,” Harrison said. “So if we get the funding, that's going to be the key. We could come in definitely next year, if we get the funding, but if not, it's just going to take more time if we need to raise more funds.”

The project is estimated to cost between $1.5 million and $2 million.

The Mancos Common Press has already put a deposit down on the vacant lot where the building will take shape.

“The blank empty lot there has been kind of an eyesore in downtown Mancos for a long time,” Harrison said.

A fourth ADA-accessible apartment may be constructed on the lower level of the building, but that will be determined by surveying and its proximity to the flood plain.

Mancos Town Administrator Heather Alvarez applied for the grant in March, and expects a response from DOLA to take several months.

At that point, an announcement would be made at a town board meeting, she said.

The Colorado Department of Local Affairs set aside about $250,000 from the Affordable Housing Incentives Grant Program to assist eligible Colorado communities with preliminary planning for affordable housing ventures.

The Mancos Common Press will hold a fundraiser for the project in a few months, Harrison said.

The organization also accepts donations on its website.

“We believe that this project would kick start other housing efforts in the town and begin to create a broader vision and understanding about the need for affordable housing in the region,” the grant stated.