Salida just approved a plan to build a community of 200 tiny houses

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

A company that makes tiny houses is close to building a community of 200 residences on 19 acres in the mountain town of Salida, about 140 miles southwest of Denver.

A plan prepared for Sprout Tiny Homes by Crabtree Group, Inc. (City of Salida)

A plan prepared for Sprout Tiny Homes by Crabtree Group, Inc. (City of Salida)

Sprout Tiny Homes told the city that the houses would average 600 square feet each, and the plan is to include a community center, two parks, a trail, storage units and a restaurant in the privately owned community. All the units will be rentals, according to Sprout.

The developer will build the homes at its manufacturing facility in La Junta. It also plans to create a smaller community of 33 homes in Walsenburg, closer to Colorado’s southern border.

“Tiny homes are the only solution that can save some of these declining rural communities or provide quality affordable housing in…the mountain communities that are booming,” founder Rod Stambaugh told Outside Magazine.

The Salida City Council on Tuesday approved the plan for “River View at Cleora,” which could be “the nation’s largest tiny-home community,” as the Denver Post reported.

Rents will start at “$750 per month for the 262-square-foot homes and increasing to $1,400 per month for the 672-square-foot units,” Outside reported last year. The average rental listing in the county is about $1,400.

Sprout portrays the project as a solution for an increasingly common problem in Colorado’s mountain towns: a lack of affordable housing, especially for seasonal workers. (Salida is only 20 minutes from Monarch Mountain.)

As Jason Blevins explained in an earlier story, this is the “worst-ever rental market” in places from Breckenridge to Crested Butte.

However, not everyone’s on board with the Sprout plan: Susan J. Tweit, a local writer, noted that the rent on these tiny units is higher than what’s on offer for some larger rentals near downtown.

“Of course, for the price, mini-home renters get green-built dwellings featuring chic appointments like steel countertops, sliding barn-door dividers and clever built-in storage,” she wrote in a piece for the Post.

“I concede that River View at Cleora seems well-designed, and it clearly will provide space for those who can afford the price and don’t mind the commute to town, or who want a vacation place in a scenic valley. But it’s not a solution to our affordable housing problem.”

This should be a fascinating experiment, then. Meanwhile, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church wants to try the tiny home approach for people experiencing homelessness.