Frisco enters workforce housing ‘planning agreement’ with Colorado Department of Transportation
FRISCO — The town of Frisco signed onto a new planning agreement with the Colorado Department of Transportation that is meant to bring more workforce housing units to the area.
During a virtual meeting Tuesday night, the Frisco Town Council voted to enter into a planning agreement with CDOT to develop a workforce housing project on a CDOT-owned lot on Granite Street, signaling a significant step forward after years of discussions between the two entities.
If the project ultimately moves forward, it could mean 20-25 new deed-restricted affordable housing units for Frisco’s workforce and CDOT employees at 619 Granite St.
“This has been a priority for the town since before I even got on council,” Mayor Gary Wilkinson said. “The trailers are gone, and it’s a good opportunity for us to finally move forward.”
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While nothing is set in stone — the agreement provides clear parameters for either the town or CDOT to back out before the final construction of the project — it does bind the parties to negotiate in “good faith” and to share the cost burden on everything but staff time, including planning and design.
Planning could cost anywhere from $200,000 to $300,000, assuming CDOT and Frisco have the funds to do so once the COVID-19 shutdown ends, and the town will get to lead the charge in engaging professional consultants and contractors, subject to CDOT’s ultimate approval.
“There’s very little risk here,” Frisco Town Manager Nancy Kerry said. “There is a cost to move forward, but there’s a cost to move forward with everything, and there would be a much bigger cost if we don’t move forward with a loss of opportunity.”
The need for additional workforce and affordable housing units will undoubtedly remain a priority for Frisco’s elected officials and staff once the coronavirus pandemic runs its course, but council members also are looking forward to other priorities, like sustainability.
“As the town moves forward with housing, we should absolutely be striving for net-zero,” council member Jessica Burley said. Of note, the council voted to approve new sustainable building code standards later in the meeting. “With a state agency at the table, whose governor has directed to get to the same spot on renewable energy, we have a good partner to help subsidize some of those extra costs.”
In order to move forward, Kerry said the next steps are for CDOT to formally sign into the agreement — she noted the department required the town to sign first — and then a joint team would be put together from both entities and the housing task force to start working through details like designs and construction costs. Things theoretically could be ready to move forward as soon as next summer.
But for now, council members seemed excited to see progress.
“I’m looking forward to this project,” council member and future Mayor Hunter Mortensen said. “I think it’s a nice glimmer of hope right now with everything else going on that we’re dealing with.”
“We’re all excited,” council member Dan Fallon added. “We’ve been next to that parcel for 30 years, so I’m excited to see something going on there.”
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