Breckenridge puts micro studios on hold, plans to open up additional employee housing

Breckenridge Town Council agreed to revisit the Breckenridge Studios project at a later date rather than moving ahead with a November start date on groundwork. The town also plans to rent out town-owned units to local employees via business master leases.
Courtesy Elaine Collins

BRECKENRIDGE — Breckenridge Town Council is opting to put on hold a new housing project that would create micro studio units in town.

As the tally stood at the council’s work session Tuesday, Sept. 22, three out of seven council members were not in favor of moving forward with the Breckenridge Studios project as it is currently planned. Dissenting council members voiced concerns about the winter ahead, and council members in support of the project agreed to wait. 

While the project was initially given the green light by council on Aug. 19, it was met with concerns at the Sept. 8 council meeting regarding timing and location. The project involves an aggressive construction schedule with groundwork expected to begin by Nov. 1.

At the Tuesday meeting, Town Manager Rick Holman explained that council members Jeffrey Bergeron and Carol Saade expressed reservations about the project following the Sept. 8 meeting. 

“I’d like to see what this community looks like in nine months, 12 months time,” Bergeron said. “I think we’ve been lulled into a false sense of complacency with this great summer business that we had, and I don’t know what’s going to happen this winter.”

He added that there are too many unknowns going into winter and that the town is already moving forward with construction of the South Gondola parking structure. While he said timing was his biggest concern, he isn’t sure about the location of the project, either. But he said he loves the concept.

Saade shared similar concerns and also was worried about traffic flow at the proposed site, which is on land at the southern entrance to the Breckenridge Recreation Center, backing up to the Kingdom Park Court mobile home park. 

Mayor Eric Mamula previously voiced that he is not in support of the project because he doesn’t think the proposed site is appropriate and doesn’t want to build anything going into winter.

Council member Dick Carleton, who has been in support of the project from the get-go, said he’s comfortable telling the developer, Traditional Neighborhood Builders, to slow down so the town can see more design details. 

“I don’t want the timeline to drive the project; I want the project to drive the timeline,” Carleton said. “I really want to make sure we do our due diligence on this and get it right. I still believe in this project. I feel it’s an important project, however, not so important that we’re careless and do it too quickly.”

Council members Kelly Owens, Erin Gigliello and Dennis Kuhn said that while they are supportive of the project, they are OK with waiting and revisiting the idea at a later date.

Holman said he hears the “put it on hold” sentiment from the council and will discuss the project with the developer. 

The town of Breckenridge is putting on hold a proposal for an affordable housing project that would include micro studio apartments. This rendering shows the front of the proposed building.
Rendering from Breckenridge Special Town Council packet

While the micro studio apartment project is up in the air, the town might provide a few rental units for the local workforce this winter. According to housing committee notes, the town owns nine units through the buy-down program that are for sale. While the town is attempting to sell the units, it was noted that there is a strong demand for the units to be occupied by local employees as the town heads into the winter season. 

Town staff proposed that a program be created for these units for the upcoming winter and spring that prioritizes master leases with local businesses that would then provide the housing for their employees. With this arrangement, the Breckenridge business owner would master lease the apartment and pay the security deposit, then rent would be based on area median income, around $500 to $900 for a one-bedroom apartment. The apartment lease would be three to nine months long. 

Council was in support of the idea overall but disagreed on execution. Owens thought certain sectors like education, child care and nonprofits should be given priority, but Mamula said all businesses should be given an equal opportunity and that determining who gets to master lease the apartments should be done through a lottery system. Owens also opted for six to nine month leases rather than three to nine month leases.

Details on the program will be brought back to council at a special meeting Sept. 29, and applications could open as soon as the day after the meeting.

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