Frisco eyeing purchase of Colorado Workforce Center building from state
Property set to be redeveloped as workforce housing
After much discussion, progress is being made on a potential workforce housing project in Frisco. The town is working on purchasing the property at 602 Galena St. in collaboration with Summit County and the state of Colorado.
The building is currently home to the Colorado Workforce Center run by the Colorado Division of Labor and Employment. Owned by the state, the 0.72-acre parcel includes a 4,153-square-foot building that currently houses 11 employees.
“For the number of staff and the size of that building, it’s probably not the best use of space,” Community Development Director Don Reimer said at a town work session Tuesday, Dec. 14.
Thanks to legislation passed this year, the sale of underutilized state properties to local government is encouraged if they can be of beneficial use, such as affordable housing development. The town and county have a mutual interest in developing the property as a partnership and sharing project costs equally.
“This is something I started working on when I first got on council, and it took this long to get the state to actually come and sit at the table and entertain this meeting,” Mayor Hunter Mortensen said, thanking county Commissioner Tamara Pogue for assisting. “… We’ve been trying for years unsuccessfully.”
Mortensen said the site couldn’t be more perfect for development, noting its proximity to Main Street, Summit Stage routes and the recpath. He also said it’s a flat area with all of the necessary infrastructure already there.
“It just checked a bunch of boxes, and it was already public property, so why not tweak its use a little bit to solve some of the problems we have?” Mortensen said.
How exactly the property would be used is still to be determined. Reimer said the state wants the town and county to assist in finding temporary office space in the interim. The department would also require about 2,500 square feet of nonresidential office and conference space for its employees at the site.
Town staff estimates the property could support a range of 27 to 36 residential units, mixing studio, one- and two-bedroom rentals with an average size of 750 square feet.
The land was appraised at $3 million in October, and the total project cost could range from $13.44 million to $21.03 million depending on the number of units and size of the commercial space. Expenses weren’t included in the 2022 budget, and the town would have to pass a supplemental resolution.
The town is investigating federal and Department of Local Affairs funding to help cover some of the cost. Various grants are also available depending on how the site is redeveloped. For instance, money could be used to improve the nearby Pioneer Park, or it could be awarded if the space includes a child care facility or is designed with energy efficiency in mind.
Mayor Pro Tem Jessica Burley said she wants net-zero construction, though she recognizes it might be expensive.
“We missed a huge opportunity with CDOT, and I think that we should challenge ourselves to not lay natural gas for heating. We should try to electrify this building,” she said. “This should be our flagship project for net-zero moving forward, and I’m willing to pony up the money to get it done. … Let’s think about it from a design perspective right out of the gate, and let’s make it happen.”
Funding also opens up depending on where the town sets the area median income rate for the units. Council member Rick Ihnken said he would like the project to be in the 60% to 120% range to support multiple income levels. That would mean an annual income of $40,380 to $80,760 for a single person or $57,660 to $115,320 for a family of four.
Council members said the development could be a sort of feeder system and help residents eventually move into a market rate unit, too.
A purchase agreement will come to council early next year so that it can go to the Legislature in January for approval, and Reimer anticipates closing could happen by late May.
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