Summit County, Breckenridge officials cooperate to create workforce housing
Summit County is making progress on two workforce housing projects, one of which will come to fruition within the next year. Both Summit County and the town of Breckenridge are cooperating to create a compact, 1.71-acre workforce housing development off of County Road 450.
According to initial drawings, the complex would feature 26 two-bedroom units, installed on county land that will be annexed to become part of the town. Officials are looking to set the maximum income for the units at 80 percent of the area median income (AMI), which comes to roughly $46,100 for a one-person household, or just over $55,400 for a two-person household.
“If you go out looking for a place on your own to rent, you want to pay about 30 percent of your income and not more of that,” said assistant county manager Thad Noll.
Phase one of the project is complete, with initial plans drawn by architect Matt Stais, landscaper Elena Scott of Norris Design, and civil engineer is Don Leinweber of Civil Insight Engineering.
“We really tried to fix a specific gap with this project,” said Summit County senior planner Don Reimer. “It’s kind of a challenging site because of all of the things that were on it. We’re really constrained on some of the things we can do, some of the ways we can use the site.”
In the past, the site served as a recycling center, public works site and storage for the sheriff’s office. A few years ago, the county made an agreement with Breckenridge when they noticed the lot would make a good site for workforce housing. Since then, all but the recycling center have been relocated.
“That project is out to bid now,” Noll said. “We hope to move that over to Coyne Valley Road this summer.”
For phase two of the project, the county land will be annexed into the town, a 12-week process. Later in October, all of the parties will meet again and present financing options before the project is finalized. The cost estimate for the next phase comes to $115,000.
Reimer said he hoped to see groundbreaking of the project in May of 2016, and resident occupancy starting in September of 2017.
Lake Hill discussions continue
The county continued discussion of the ongoing Lake Hill affordable housing project, as the county will look to buy a 44.8-acre plot of land currently owned by the U.S. Forest Service. Thanks to a bill passed by Congress last year, the county will be able to purchase the land, strictly for the use of affordable housing. The county will benefit doubly from the bill, as the proceeds of the sale will go to the Dillon Ranger District.
“There are some really big wins associated with this project that we want to remind people of,” Summit County Commissioner Thomas Davidson said.
The county hopes to purchase the plot of land within a year, as the environmental impact assessment continues. Since the land was previously used for administrative buildings, with trees already felled, the impact should be relatively minimal. Now, officials are working on drafting a request-for-proposal for the final appraisal.
“Between now and the end of the year, we should have a final purchase price for Lake Hill,” Reimer said. While the housing units themselves are still a distance out, the added affordable housing will be crucial to helping satiate the high demand across the county.
Jennifer Kermode, executive director of the Summit Combined Housing Authority, said the county expects to see a minimum demand of 515 additional rental units, up to a maximum of 960 units that have yet to be built, according to a 2013 Workforce Housing Needs Assessment.
“If we don’t provide affordable housing, it’s not going to happen,” Kermode said. “The free market isn’t gonna go that way.”
The county also expects an increased demand in property ownership, ranging from 520 to 825 units.
While officials have not decided on an AMI level for future renters, Kurmode expects demand to increase, even for those above median income levels.
“We still see people having difficulty affording rents between 60 percent AMI and 120 percent AMI,” Kurmode said.
With the rise of owners renting their properties for short-term vacationers rather than long-term workers, she said that need would only increase.
Frisco releases Comprehensive survey
Earlier this month, the town of Frisco released a comprehensive survey addressing local housing, business and recreation preferences. Of the 561 who responded to the survey, 44 percent were full-time residents in Frisco, 23 percent were second-home owners, 20 percent lived elsewhere in the county and 6 percent lived in the Frisco area outside of town limits. The vast majority (77 percent) said they thought the town was headed in the right direction and could see themselves living there in five to 10 years.
Most of those surveyed (85 percent) said they own their home, while just 15 percent are renters. The top three reasons to live in the town were listed as the quality of life, recreational amenities and employment opportunities. Just under half of those surveyed work in the Frisco area.
Of those surveyed, 48 percent are employed full time, 23 percent are self-employed, 16 percent are retired, 3 percent hold multiple jobs and 1 percent are looking for work.
Thirty percent of those surveyed own or rent a business.
Of those, 29 percent are professional businesses, 22 percent retail, 21 percent other and 10 percent lodging.
Primary challenges included the high cost of doing business (38 percent), tourism fluctuation (25 percent), the lack of affordable housing for employees (22 percent) and employee recruitment and retention (21 percent)
Respondents chose from a list of ways to support the town economy. The top three listed choices were to continue to offer a variety of festivals and special events, create more attainable housing for workers and create an economic development program for local business.
The most supported projects included expanding recreational amenities, expanding paved pathways and expanding arts and culture amenities.
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