2017 Year in Review: Summit County, towns chip away at solving housing crisis
December 24, 2017
Editor's note: The Summit Daily is counting down the top 10 stories of 2017.
Summit County saw a big year in workforce-housing developments with major projects unveiled, started or completed at Keystone and Copper ski resorts, and in Silverthorne, Dillon and Breckenridge, all seeking to chip away at one of most pervasive problems facing Summit County today.
The problem is too many Summit County homes that were once occupied by local workers are being lost to price creep, where rising real estate values prevent people coming into similar jobs from purchasing the same homes workers did 10 or 20 years ago.
Expanded short-term rentals and a growing number of luxury sales to second-homeowners are all contributing to the crunch, detailed by a 2016 study that found the county needs more than 600 additional housing units just to catch up to current demand.
In Silverthorne, however, the town that just celebrated its 50th anniversary is pushing forward with a roughly $80 million workforce housing project on 52 acres on the northern side of town.
The development, Smith Ranch, is a planned mixed-use commercial and residential project that will feature about 200 new workforce-housing units, all of which are to be owner-occupied, once built out.
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Silverthorne could break ground at Smith Ranch as early as this spring with construction on the first wave of homes there beginning later in the summer. The homes will be built and sold as quickly as the market can absorb them, according to Silverthorne officials.
Additionally, a recently approved apartment complex in Dillon, the Dillon Ridge Vista Apartments, is going up near one of the county's most trafficked retail centers, the Dillon Ridge Marketplace.
The developer is reserving half of the new Dillon complex's 36 units for local workers, per a deal approved by Dillon Town Council and negotiated along side another recently approved housing project, the Dillon Flats Condominiums.
The Dillon Ridge Vista project and Dillon Flats should add a combined 84 homes to the local inventory, 30 of which should be workforce-housing units, according to the town.
While the two developments are separate deals, they are being pursued by the same developer, who previously explained Dillon Flats will help offset revenue lost by making such a large portion of Dillon Ridge workforce housing.
Not one to miss out on the action, Summit County finished holding a lottery at the end of October for the first units in a new workforce-housing complex at Keystone Ski Resort, where housing is also sorely needed.
Twenty-five townhome units in the West Hills development of the Snake River Basin at Keystone will be duplexes and triplexes, each with a one-car garage, according to the county, which expects the units to be available sometime next summer. Up to 41 more could be built in a second wave.
Meanwhile, Copper Mountain Resort recently unveiled additional details for a proposed worforce housing complex on 2.5 acres at the northern portion of the Alpine parking lot. The plan is to convert the land into a condo complex of 80 housing units, 50 of which would be for employees with 30 reserved for affordable housing.
Breckenridge too has been making moves in the world of workforce housing, cutting ribbons this year on the first 17 townhomes in a new workforce-housing neighborhood called Blue 52 and on 26 two-bedroom apartments at Huron Landing, which were built in a 50-50 partnership with Summit County.
The new $8.5 million apartment complex, which rents out an apartment for $1,550 to $1,700 a month, is situated along Country Road 450, off Highway 9, near the 7-Eleven in Breckenridge. More importantly perhaps, the partnership between the county and the town is believed to be the first of its kind in Summit County, and officials have said they believe it could lead to more like it in the near future.
Not every development has come without criticism, and Dillon and Frisco, for example, both saw projects spark opposition from locals this year.
Still, numerous projects of various scale and size are afoot pretty much across the board in Summit County, with all of its towns and county government devoting monies in their 2018 budgets to continue the effort to create more workforce housing units.