Townsite Community Land Trust seeks Southside location for donated historic house

The Townsite Community Land Trust (TCLT) recently received the donation of a 102-year-old Flagstaff home that it plans to move to Southside and restore to provide affordable housing for the next century.

The two bedroom, one bathroom cottage was first built in 1920. TCLT Managing Director Duffie Westheimer described its architecture as “a classic 1920’s bungalow” with “a touch of craftsmanship”. Although its history is unknown at this time, it has had six owners over the past century, beginning with local drugstore owners Will and Ann Marlar, who were granted the home in 1925.

Flagstaff resident Helene Babbitt, whose family purchased the home in 1995, recently donated the home to TCLT.

“Jim would be thrilled to preserve this home and our historic neighborhoods,” Babbitt said of her late husband. “This simultaneous preservation of Flagstaff’s history and contribution to affordable housing is a win-win for our city.”

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TCLT is now seeking a vacant Southside lot to move the home to by May 2023 in hopes of increasing the number of owner-occupied homes in the neighborhood.

“I think the people who built Southside need something from that community,” Westheimer said. “They were often left out and it would be nice to improve the neighborhood.”

A publication by TCLT states that “home ownership creates neighborhood stability and adds residents who are inclined to care for their neighborhoods. The quality of life for Southside residents will benefit from more restored homes and the long tenure of stay encouraged by our CLT.”

A Prescott structure mover will work with Townsite to move the home to its new location, where a Flagstaff construction company will complete the restoration. The only condition is that no other house may stand on the property.

Townsite is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving the town’s history and character while providing residents with affordable long-term housing. This will be the sixth historic home to have been converted into affordable housing since its launch in 2014.

The 501(c)(3) non-profit organization acquires historic properties in Flagstaff and restores and refurbishes them into affordable long-term homes. According to its website, the restorations will focus on “contemporary livability and energy efficiency” as well as preserving the home’s historic character.

Flagstaff residents earning no more than 125% of the region’s median income (AMI, $96,750 for a family of three in 2022) are eligible to purchase a TCLT home. Homeowners through TCLT own the home, not the land, and are responsible for its management. The process allows TCLT to continue to offer the property to another family as affordable housing after the sale.

“It’s going to be consistently affordable, household to household,” Westheimer said of the Babbitt home.

The house is well maintained, she said, and it probably won’t take much work to restore. Some potential points she mentioned are contemporary window replacements, plumbing upgrades, and adding outlets to meet the electrical needs of modern homes.

At the end of the restoration, Flagstaff will have a new, affordable home intended for long-term use.

Westheimer described the restoration process as a “balancing act”. When choosing options like furnishings and materials for the restored homes, she tries to keep things as timely as possible while being fiscally responsible.

When it comes to restorations, quality and durability are paramount as TCLT hopes to create a home that can be used by Flagstaff residents for the next 100 years. For example, TCLT installs Formica countertops in their homes instead of granite when they need to be replaced because they last longer.

“If someone is thinking about housing numerous homes in Flagstaff over the next, hopefully, 100 years, the upfront cost for that period is proportionately lower,” Westheimer said. “…We do quality work so the homeowners don’t have to do a lot of maintenance. It’s an investment, but it’s an investment in numerous houses.”

Visit to learn more about TCLT. To learn more about donating tickets, email [email protected] or leave a message at 928-268-2909.

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