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Tiny Home Developments Coming to Colorado Mountain Towns

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A Colorado homebuilder has big expectations for a series of tiny home suburbs in rural towns, which go well beyond offering vacationers a stripped-down seasonal stay. According to an article in Outside magazine, Rod Stambaugh, founder of Sprout Tiny Homes, believes two planned developments composed of his company's compact eco modular homes can solve a crisis for rural ski towns desperate to house seasonal employees. He believes the sub-300-square-foot homes coming to the towns of Walsenburg and Salida can be game-changers for local development.

"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," he told Outside

Since founding Sprout in La Junta, Colorado, in late 2013, Stambaugh has been outspoken about the potential small homes have to help rural areas, and even function as temporary shelter for those displaced by natural disasters. The company's homes, built in their southeast Colorado factory, were showcased at the Tiny House Jamboree in Colorado Springs earlier this summer, and a photo of the Aspen model ran in a New Yorker story about the event. But this may just be the beginning if Stamburgh can follow-through on plans for the two housing developments.

After the town of Walsenburg changed its zoning code in 2014 to remove size restrictions on residential construction, Stambaugh purchased 4.5 acres of land and laid out plans to build a permanent tiny home community with a community center and outdoor theater. He expects the 32 units, ranging from 262 to 672 square feet, will sell for $60,000 to $130,000. Walsenburg offers an intriguing test case for the tiny home movement. The city is the first in the country to alter size restrictions for new homes, and, being a former miner's town, has plenty of small lots that used to house small cottages for workers. In addition to the Walsenburg development, Stambaugh also plans to construct 200 small homes on 19 acres in Salida, which has no size restrictions listed in its zoning codes. Called River View at Cleora, the development will offer long-term leases starting at $750 per month.

Salida officials and area employers welcome the new additions, and see a chance to attract new residents and grow. Local realtor Leslie Walker says, "Our vacancy rate is zero. I think tiny homes are a great idea."

The tiny home solution isn't new: area hoteliers have tried downsizing, and other mountain towns, including Telluride, have debated the idea of permitting tiny homes. But Stambaugh may be first to market with a complete development, and he's already advocated a similar project for Lake County, California, which desperately needs new housing after being hit hard by wildfires earlier this year. If successful, these planned communities may convince other municipalities to experiment with tiny homes, including Sprout's hometown, La Junta, which currently doesn't allow tiny home construction.

(Hat tip to Geoff Manaugh)
The World's First Tiny-Home Suburb, Coming to a Colorado Mountain Town Near You [Outside]
Telluride, Colorado is Considering a Tiny Home Community [Curbed Ski]
Tiny-House Fad Makes Colorado Cities Rethink Building Codes [Curbed Ski]
Tiny House Coverage [Curbed]