For local workers who qualify for deed-restricted affordable housing and are renting, the news of potentially losing such housing would be most unwelcome, dire even.

Residents of Creekside, the privately owned, deed-restricted 26-unit housing complex tucked between the Shandoka F building and the San Miguel River on Black Bear Road, have received word that they are now in the position of facing an uncertain housing future, though they are not being immediately displaced. Residents recently came home to a note affixed to front doors informing them of owner Michael Zivian’s intent to condominiumize the complex and sell each unit in what could be a year’s time.

Zivian confirmed the plans for Creekside were true, but assured residents they would not be displaced any time soon.

“We’re not throwing anyone out,” he said.

The plan, he said, was to convert Creekside to condominiums and offer current tenants the right of first refusal to purchase their unit. Once the units have been converted, residents will receive a one-year extension on their leases.

“After one year the tenants will have month-to-month leases and their units may be sold,” Zivian said.     

According to Creekside resident Randall Saldin, who penned a letter to the editor in the Friday edition of the Daily Planet expressing his concerns, being offered a purchase opportunity is not a viable option for many in Creekside.

“Tenants don’t want a timeline,” Saldin said in an interview with the Planet. “We want replacement housing. There’s no place to go.”

Saldin said he’d finally gotten his unit at Creekside after having been “on the (waiting) list forever.” He’s lived there for a year and a half.

Lauren Bloemsma, town attorney Kevin Geiger’s legal assistant, said town officials had “heard the rumors” about Creekside’s conversion to condominiums. While town officials have not heard anything in the way of permit applications or other communications about conversion plans, there are certain steps Zivian must take before any conversion takes place, she explained.

“Mr. Zivian would be required to go through the Planning Department to convert Creekside to condominiums, just as he did with Camel’s Garden and Ice House,” Bloemsma wrote in an email. “Additionally, pursuant to the Town of Telluride Affordable Housing Deed Restriction and Covenants, which burden the deed restricted Creekside units, and to the Telluride Affordable Housing Guidelines, sale of deed-restricted units are subject to certain procedures, including providing written notice to the Telluride Affordable Housing of the intent to sell prior to offering a unit for sale.”

It is possible the town could purchase the units, she added.

Creekside is a unique, private sector contribution to the affordable housing pool in Telluride proper. Built by Zivian and Lot Jay Partners in the mid-1990s, Creekside is comprised of 26 units and is a mix of one- and two-bedroom units. The entire property is listed with the Town of Telluride as a single deed-restricted unit. Zivian built Creekside as a way to provide housing for employees of his Camel’s Garden Hotel. In addition to providing in-town affordable housing, the complex allowed residents to have dogs. In his conversion project going forward, Zivian said that Camel’s Garden “will purchase eight units for its employees.”

Saldin said that no matter the timeframe, the prospect of purchasing housing is daunting, maybe even impossible.

“We are all low-income town employees that can barely afford to rent/eat/raise children in this town, yet alone purchase a so-called ‘affordable housing deed-restricted condo’ for hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he wrote in his letter to the editor. “An offer of six months, or a year, or even two years to find new housing is not sufficient, as you are aware, the availability of employee housing is non-existent. We are all low-income town employees, many with school age children.”

After a quarter-century as Creekside’s landlord and project developer, Zivian is ready to move on, hence the proposed conversion and sale of what has been a significant piece of the affordable housing puzzle.

“We’ve owned it for 25 years, and I turn 76 in less than a month,” he said. “It’s time.”