COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A plan to build the first tiny home village in Colorado Springs unanimously passed a vote Tuesday by the City Council.
The project will bring 18 tiny homes and two storage sheds to the northeast corner of Fountain Boulevard and Sierra Madre Street.
Five homes on the property will be demolished to make room for the village. The homes were built in the 1890s and some people wanted to save them, but no plan for doing so surfaced and the owner said the homes are old and unfit to occupy.
Two of the homes are still occupied but residents are expected to move out soon. Signe Taylor and her family said they don't mind leaving to make room for the village.
"At first, I had that initial bit of anger because we're being uprooted," Taylor said. "I think we were more (upset) about the landlord not telling us until after the sign was put up."
The property owner will grant a 10-year lease for five lots on the property to Kairos Project 17/We Fortify, a nonprofit organization that will build and manage the village.
The community will be called Working Fusion at Mill Street and will be located in the Mill Street neighborhood on the southwestern end of downtown.
So why did this tiny home project gain city approval while others failed?
"It's small and it's not for profit," said Shelley Jensen, the project founder. "Other villages were for profit and were larger. It's also not for the homeless, as most villages are. It's for people at risk of becoming homeless, to keep them out of it."
Jensen said the village is close to the Springs Rescue Mission and the Salvation Army homeless shelter, so it shouldn't disrupt the neighborhood.
But Jo Ann Ziegler, a longtime resident and head of the neighborhood association, said she opposes the village.
"We feel like it's an experimental neighborhood with the stadium coming in, the city trying to work on the railroad, etc.," she said. "We're just not ready for it. I guess we'll have to try to live with it."
Jensen said the tiny homes are for young adults ages 18 to 29.
"They have to pay a monthly rent of $600," she said. "Utilities are included. They have to be employed and they have to sign a two-year contract to live there. We will have someone on-site to manage the village. We'll have services available for them. We want it to be a community."
Finding the money for such a project was difficult in previous efforts, and the estimated cost for this one is $1.6 million.
But Jensen said she'll move slowly with the village.
"We're going to raise the money we need," she said. "We'll bring in a few tiny homes at a time, as we get the money."
"This is just what we need," said City Council President Richard Skorman. "I'm glad to see the private sector stepping forward to get involved. Thank you for doing this. Maybe this will lead to other similar projects."
The council also voted 8-0 for a zoning change to allow the project to happen.
Jensen said she hopes to start it as soon as possible and have it ready to open within a year.