Frisco continues discussions about density bonuses for workforce housing |

Frisco continues discussions about density bonuses for workforce housing

The town of Frisco, Frisco Marina and Dillon Reservoir are pictured from Mount Royal on July 13, 2022.
Steven Josephson/Summit Daily News

Frisco Town Council members continue to discuss a density bonus incentive, which permits a developer to exceed the maximum allowable density on a project in exchange for building workforce housing units. 

Currently, there are already options that allow for density bonuses, which are providing on- or off-site workforce housing. Those provisions were created in 1998, and 29 deed-restricted workforce housing units have been constructed across seven different projects since then. This accounts for about 18% of deed-restricted units in Frisco. Town staff proposed two additional options that are up for consideration from the Town Council. 

The first additional option would allow a developer to exceed density if 100% of the bonus units are deed-restricted under the Housing Helps program, which requires occupants to work a minimum of 30 hours per week in Summit County. Under Housing Helps, there is no restriction when it comes to area median income.

The other would let developers combine the density incentives with the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, which has units priced at 60% of the area median income to receive a credit. There would be a minimum of 50% of the total number of bonus units deed-restricted to 60% area median income, but the requirement that the occupant work in Summit County for 30 hours per week would be omitted.

“(The planning commission) finds that Housing Helps is a great program that is applicable for existing homes because it preserves workforce housing units that are traditionally used as workforce housing, but they don’t feel as appropriate for above and beyond density,” Housing Program Manager Danelle Cook said. “So instead, they recommended that 100% of the total number of bonus units with the deed restriction at an average of 160% (area median income) and also have a 3% appreciation cap (on the first additional option).”

In earlier discussions about the incentive, council discussed letting developers build the deed-restricted units within a mile of the town limits, but there were concerns that none of the affordable housing would actually be built in Frisco. 

“What (the planning commission) came to was that they don’t want to see the community benefit of affordable housing allowed to be located outside of our community,” Cook added. “Meanwhile, we’re still having to deal with increased density inside our community.”

One consideration would be to reduce parking minimums as well, since those can sometimes inhibit development projects with higher densities. However, some council members expressed concerns with transportation for members of the workforce who do not have a car since the Summit Stage bus only runs hourly

Council member Rick Ihnken said that restricting appreciation could end up being “devastating” for workforce homeowners in Frisco if they were to decide to move because the value of their homes would not keep up with a market rate. 

“(A 3% appreciation cap) doesn’t allow the people in those homes to be able to get out of them, which is the whole point of this workforce housing,” Ihnken said. 

Council members asked staff to come back with more analysis on appreciation cap and at other opportunities to reduce some parking for developers. 

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