Canal Commons is a new parkside neighborhood along the historic canal in Green River, Utah being developed by Epicenter Properties, LLC. These much-needed homes have been sized for local development team capacity with a focus on high quality design, affordability, energy efficiency, and accessibility. This project also features the old town park restored as Pearl Baker Park, with natural playscapes, outdoor classrooms, and shaded picnic areas among a tall grove of cottonwood trees.
Located along Interstate 70 in Emery County, the rural community of Green River has experienced different booms and busts as a result of the railroad, uranium and coal mining, agriculture, and a military missile base. Each of these industries has either declined dramatically or departed the region altogether, leaving behind a community with a fraction of the population it once had. But for a lucky 847 people Green River, Utah is home.
This project is a direct response to both the community’s urgent need for accessible, affordable rental units and a lack of starter homes for those seeking homeownership; Canal Commons, sized specifically for local development team capacity, focuses on high quality design, affordability, and accessibility. Energy efficiency and durability of materials are a key part of design; reducing monthly utility bills and maintenance costs makes a significant difference in the limited finances of low- and moderate- income (“LMI”) families and individuals in order to better ensure personal financial stability.
The housing type selected for Canal Commons is both market selected as well as inspired by the historic, vernacular housing in town. With every historic economic boom in Green River, affordable worker housing was typically built as minimal single-family detached houses. When surveyed in 2019, potential tenants and home-owners valued outdoor space and privacy. The single-family detached housing typology will also integrate well into its surroundings by mirroring the adjacent housing, as all affordable housing should.
These houses have between two and three bedrooms. In response to both the busy street and railroad tracks located to the south, each house faces inward towards a shared green space. Each street entrance is designed as a service or informal entrance while the inward-facing entrance is designed to be a welcoming front porch.
Q: Who can live here?
A: We aim to help anyone in need of decent affordable housing in town. We’re still working on how to make sure those in greatest need get a house, but in the meantime let us know if you might be interested!
Q: Just how tough is the housing situation in Green River?
A: According to a 2019 Occupancy Study (Epicenter) and a 2023 Housing Market Study (James Wood, Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute):
84% of the people who work in Green River don’t live in Green River.
The median age of a house in town is 48 years old.
14% of homes sit vacant and in need of rehabilitation or demolition.
One-third of the population lives in mobile homes which make up 14% of the homes in town (compared to a 6% national average).
10% of the housing stock is rental units; none are considered affordable.
None of the apartment units in town are accessible or appropriate for those able to age-in-place.
Due to supply chain issues and labor shortages caused by the global pandemic, construction of the Canal Commons housing was placed on hold from 2020-2023 after water and sewer infrastructure was installed on the site. Instead, Epicenter shifted to what else could be done in these times: using local labor and materials to restore the old town park as Pearl Baker Park.
Epicenter aims to break ground on Canal Commons housing in early 2024 once the project is fully funded.
Stay tuned to this page for updates or follow @ruralandproud on Instagram. You can also sign up below to get more information and receive updates!
We are in the final stages of re-securing our previously committed funding. Your support is crucial for us to proceed with Phase I of the project: constructing five affordable rental homes. This is a major undertaking for our small non-profit organization. Donations (both in-kind and cash) reduce cash flow strain and ensure the project moves forward as smoothly as possible. Click the link below to make a donation.
Funding has been committed by various sources, including the Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund, Rocky Mountain Community Reinvestment Corporation, Community Impact Board Fund (CIB), Emery County, City of Green River (land donation), private foundation grants, and individual private donors.
This project would not have been possible without support from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines, Community Impact Board Fund (CIB), Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), AARP, State Farm, Union Pacific Foundation, David, Sherrie & Shaleane Gee family, Wells Fargo Foundation, Rocky Mountain Power Foundation, American Express, UServeUtah, Colorado River & Trails Expeditions (CRATE), Utah Division of Arts & Museums, National Endowment for the Arts, WESTAF, Utah Humanities, Sorenson Legacy Foundation, The Corporation for National and Community Service (“AmeriCorps”), and many individual private donors.
Epicenter, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, is the sole member of Epicenter Properties, LLC., the owner/operator of Canal Commons.
Epicenter stewards creative initiatives that honor the past, strengthen the present, and build the future that we envision with our community. Located in Green River, Utah, Epicenter is a vibrant hub for rural investment and cultural exploration of the high desert of southeastern Utah. Beyond our region, Epicenter advocates for rural communities and contributes to the dialogue on contemporary place-based work in the United States. Epicenter is a 501(c)(3) public charity nonprofit organization.