Silver Jack

This drawing shows the Silver Jack employee housing project on the 100 block of South Fir Street from the west. The lottery for the units in Silver Jack and Longwill 16 is open until Aug. 29. (Courtesy image)

The lottery to become the owner of a brand new deed-restricted apartment in the Town of Telluride has opened. Applications will be accepted until Aug. 29 at noon and the drawing will take place Sept. 12 at Rebekah Hall at noon.

“The Longwill 16 and Silver Jack lottery will provide a much-needed opportunity for locals to enter into homeownership in Telluride,” Telluride Housing Director Melanie Wasserman said. “Not only is this critical to maintain a strong workforce, it is essential for our community to remain vibrant and soulful.”

Applicants must meet a range of income, employment and residency requirements in order to qualify and, depending on family size and other variables, can choose from one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units. All offer covered parking or garages. Pets are permitted and are limited to two dogs or two cats (or one of each) per unit.

Under construction since early last year, both projects are nearing completion. Formerly known as the Lot B and SMPA projects, each has been christened with new names with historical resonance. Lot B, located on the west side of Mahoney Drive near the Entrada neighborhood along the San Miguel River, is now called the Longwill 16. Geneva Shaunette, Telluride Town Council and Telluride Housing Authority (THA) subcommittee member, explained that the Pearl property (which abuts Longwill 16 to the north) was once owned by a dairy farmer named Longwill who called his operation the 16-1 Dairy. The new housing project has 16 units.

“So Longwill 16 was easy and rolled off the tongue,” Shaunette said.

The SMPA mixed-use project on the 100 block of South Fir Street will not just be home to a slew of new homeowners, but is also the Ah Haa School for the Arts’ new space and a 70-space underground parking garage. Its new name is Silver Jack. Silver Jack, in addition to hearkening back to the area’s mining legacy, was also the name of late, former Telluride Mayor, John Micetic’s 1970s-era restaurant, The Silverjack, once located across the alley to the north where Telluride Sports now stands. Shaunette said that in the naming contest the subcommittee held, the SMPA project’s suggestions were “all over the place,” but the group liked the suggestions Nellie and Silver Jack best. Silver Jack was selected, she said, and “sounded like a good, downtown name.”

Wasserman said the two projects will likely please those who tour the sites in hopes of laying claim to a place to call home.

“I think the public will be impressed with both projects,” she said. “The Longwill 16 has an excellent location with gorgeous views at the edge of the Valley Floor. And garages! Silver Jack brings a more urban living experience, situated right in the middle of town. It has easy access to just about anywhere you want to be, and also has knock out views of Ajax.”

Initially, the THA subcommittee had recommended that, at the request of the town’s human resources department, two units be held aside for qualified town employees or for purchase by the town. According to the subcommittee’s memo to council, “ …  the Subcommittee … recommends a two-bedroom unit (SMPA Unit 205) and a three-bedroom unit (Lot B Unit B3) be made available for Town ownership or ownership by its employees, and not be subject to the lottery for the Projects. If Council concurs with the recommendation, these units would be deed-restricted consistent with other Town-owned units, and be sold to the Town, or a Town-qualified employee  … ”

At Tuesday’s Town Council meeting, Mayor Sean Murphy lobbied successfully for an alternative to that recommendation — that one of the two available four-bedroom units be earmarked specifically for Town Manager Ross Herzog. Citing Herzog’s family’s size, (Herzog and his wife have four children and are currently living in a two-bedroom apartment in another in-town deed restricted housing unit set aside for town employees). Given recent calls from headhunters in other resort municipalities that can offer better housing and compensation packages, Murphy urged council to provide larger accommodations for Herzog.

“The current Aspen manager vacancy includes an approximately 2,200-square-foot three-bedroom home,” he explained after the meeting. “The current Vail manager vacancy includes a more than 3,000-square-foot six-bedroom home. Recognizing the very real possibility that we might ultimately lose our current town manager, I suggested that we modify the recommendation made by the THA subcommittee to narrow the significant disparity between the housing benefit currently offered by Telluride to its town manager compared to the housing benefits offered by other mountain resort communities to their managers.”

Unlike many other town employees, the town manager has been required since 2010 to live within town limits. Murphy said he agreed with the residency requirement.

“I believe that living inside the town limits encourages the manager to be a vital part of the community that he or she serves,” Murphy said.

Further, Murphy said, with the manager and his family soon to be occupying a larger unit in Longwill 16, it will free up the two-bedroom apartment in Mendota for another qualified town employee. Therefore, he said, there will still be two units available to town employees as recommended by the housing subcommittee.

Council narrowly approved the change in the recommendation, 4-3. Shaunette was one of those opposed. She said the presentation of an alternative took away from what was supposed to be a celebration of the new employee housing projects.

“It’s my opinion that the change to the subcommittee recommendation was inappropriate in its timing and its substance,” she said this week. “I am disappointed that its controversy is casting a shadow over the incredible projects and housing that we are putting into the community. I wish that the Town Council meeting was focused on the celebration instead of a last minute controversial curveball.”

Herzog did not respond to requests for comment.

For applicant requirements, unit specifications, lottery packets, applications and other pertinent info, visit smrha.org.