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CSU, Tetrad provide affordable housing to employees

The+Rendezvous+Trail+Apartments+Jan.+27.+Scheduled+to+open+in+phases+throughout+2024%2C+the+apartments+will+serve+as+an+affordable+option+for+Colorado+State+University+employees.
Collegian | Michael Marquardt
The Rendezvous Trail Apartments Jan. 27. Scheduled to open in phases throughout 2024, the apartments will serve as an affordable option for Colorado State University employees.

When Ria Mensah moved to Fort Collins to take on her new position as fiscal and administrative coordinator in Colorado State University’s Vice President for Student Affairs office, she knew her housing would be temporary. 

Being put in University Village while she looked for a permanent residence, Mensah quickly became aware of how much the cost of living had risen in Fort Collins since she was an undergraduate student. 

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“In our venture of looking for places to stay, it just seemed like, whoa, the expense here is a lot more than living in Houston,” Mensah said. “So I just was always like, ‘No, that’s not going to work.’ I looked at houses, apartments, condos, townhomes — and that was just almost like a dead end until, like I said, I got this information from Blanche Hughes.” 

Hughes is the vice president for student affairs and a co-worker of Mensah’s. She alerted Mensah to a new affordable housing opportunity in collaboration with CSU and Tetrad Real Estate. 

The Rendezvous Trail Apartments will “bring to market 57 below market rate rental units for eligible CSU employees in the Fort Collins area,” according to CSU Human Resources. The entire complex will host 180 units constructed by Tetrad. 

The first phase of apartments was completed in January, with the remaining buildings expected to be completed by the summer. Units with up to three bedrooms will be available to rent at discounted rates, utilizing the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s income guidelines. Prospective renters must qualify for reduced rates and undergo a pre-screening process. 

Mensah and her 16-year-old son will be moving into one of these units within the month as the first 18 units are made available to CSU employees. Being able to live in these units is a big deal for Mensah, who has dealt with long commutes before. 

“(I) told myself and I told my friends, ‘I don’t want to have to commute a long way every day,’” Mensah said. “The job I previously was in, it took an hour just one way going to work. So it was a two-hour commute every day.”

Special Advisor to the President and Chancellor Brett Anderson collaborated in the development of the Rendezvous Trail Apartments. The apartments were originally going to be built on the Hughes Stadium land, but when that property became unavailable due to a local vote, CSU had to get creative, Anderson said. 

 The apartments reside on a lot that originally belonged to Timberline Church. The university traded a 5-acre lot that the church wanted for the 10-acre lot on which the apartments now sit.

The plot was then acquired by Tetrad Real Estate. While the apartments do not belong to the university, the 57 apartments open to CSU employees are secured by contract even if Tetrad sells the property for the next 20 years, Anderson said. 

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“Brett and I have worked on a number of things as projects over the years, these ones that really impact our community,” CSU Director of Community Affairs and Engagement Mike Hooker said. “I think we as a university recognize that it’s really important for us to be able to be the best place to work in Northern Colorado. And so part of that is hoping to continue making sure that things like housing for employees is something that they can count on.” 

CSU has been aware of their employees’ need for affordable housing for years, and rather than waiting around for someone else to amend the issue, they have been searching for their own solutions. In addition to these apartments, the university is exploring affordable housing options, like how they can assist employees with rent or home ownership, but there are no projects in action.

“I wish I could say it’s going to make this massive difference, but it’s going to make a difference — it is going to be a very meaningful difference for those 57 families or individuals,” Anderson said. “I will tell you it’s not going to solve the problem. … We know that the impact is not holistic. It’s not solving the entire problem. We’ve got a lot more work to do, and that’s something that we’re committed to doing at the university.”

For Mensah, these apartments are a big deal. Being close to work and in a permanent home will make doing her job much easier. 

“It’s been a blessing honestly,” Mensah said. “It’s been awesome to have your (employer) actually say, ‘You know what, we’ll work with you.’ And this all being new to everyone, everyone being so patient and so kind about it, the support system here, in my opinion, has been just phenomenal. I really like where I work.”

Anderson said that apartments are still open for applications, and because units are becoming available in stages, those interested are more likely to secure an apartment if they have a flexible move-in date.

Reach Ivy Secrest at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @IvySecrest.

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Ivy Secrest, Content Managing Editor
Ivy Secrest is The Collegian's content managing editor. Secrest uses she/her/hers pronouns and has worked for The Collegian previously as a reporter and as life and culture director for the 2022-23 academic year. As a senior in the journalism and media communications department, Secrest enjoys reporting on environmental and social issues with a special interest in science communication. She is president of the Science Communication Club and is pursuing a minor in global environmental sustainability with hopes of utilizing her education in her career. Growing up in Denver, Secrest developed a deep love for the outdoors. She could happily spend the rest of her life hiking alpine environments, jumping into lakes, taking photos of the wildflowers and listening to folk music. She's passionate about skiing, hiking, dancing, painting, writing poetry and camping. Secrest's passions spurred her career in journalism, helping her reach out to her community and get involved in topics that students and residents of Fort Collins truly care about. She has taken every opportunity to connect with the communities she has reported in and has written for several of the desks at The Collegian, including news, life and culture, cannabis, arts and entertainment and opinion. She uses her connections with the community to inform both managerial and editorial decisions with hopes that the publication serves as a true reflection of the student body's interests and concerns. Secrest is an advocate of community-centered journalism, believing in the importance of fostering meaningful dialogue between press and community.

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