Creating Affordable Homes and Preserving Flagstaff’s History: The TCLT Story

The TCLT story began in November, 2013 when concerned citizens purchased four historic homes on the corner of W. Aspen Ave. and N. Bonito St. that were heading for foreclosure.  They knew what the likely outcome would be if they did not get the houses.  Rather than stand on the Courthouse steps, throwing out bids among the developers who likely wanted the historic neighborhood property, they arranged to purchase the houses.  The sale closed the Friday before the property would have been captured by the highest bidder.

A group of citizens volunteered to form an Interim Board of Directors to make the founding decisions and policies that would create Flagstaff Townsite Historic Properties Community Land Trust.  These houses would be the first homes in the Townsite CLT.

The organization’s mission, “promoting historic preservation and community investment with permanently affordable owner-occupied homes” was based on the following values and goals:

  • preserve Flagstaff’s historic architecture and neighborhoods
  • make it possible for more Flagstaff residents with limited incomes to buy a home
  • create the vehicle through which the community could grow TCLT’s home portfolio

Rehabilitation of the first properties

Because of the houses’ strong “bones” even after decades of neglect they could be rehabilitated.  The work was lovingly implemented.  All but one of the contractors were local small businesses.

Rehabilitation work included

  • removing stucco from the two frame houses to reveal the original clapboard siding
  • lifting the frame houses and replacing the rubble foundations with block stem walls and foundations that raised them above grade
  • modernizing the homes with insulation, significantly more electrical outlets, new wiring, new plumbing, new–yet historically appropriate–windows, etc.
  • Restoring and retaining historic light fixtures, wood floors, interior layout, and details such as archways, and cove ceilings

Thanks to their energy-efficient improvements, the rehabilitated century-old homes earned an Advanced Plus rating from the Coconino County Sustainability Program.

Upon completion of the restoration, the homes and land were donated to the newly formed nonprofit, tax-exempt Townsite CLT. With the necessary decisions made and policies set and the properties finished, it was time to sell them.  The 4 Square rehabilitation project will be transformed into a small community of Flagstaff residents who can put down their roots and stay for as long as they want.

Many thanks to Lauren McKean for contributing this article and helping with much of the writing on the TCLT website.