Frisco gives green light for 36 new workforce housing units
April 6, 2017
The Frisco Town Council has cleared the way for 36 new workforce-housing units across town, part of a concerted effort to address the countywide housing crunch that has sent workers packing and squeezed hiring at local businesses.
The approval of the new units came after a marathon council work session late last month when staff and councilmembers cleared the way for the three projects that will provide affordable housing options for local employees.
Frisco is also in the process of setting up a Housing Task Force comprised of community members that would advise the council on affordable housing priorities and potential projects around town.
Officials say they hope to bring in as many perspectives as possible to help them tackle the problem, which is immense: According to county estimates, the Tenmile Basin alone needs to add 249 units by 2020 just to catch up with red-hot demand and another 310 if the area hopes to keep pace with growth.
"I definitely think it's challenging but one thing we're hesitant to do is just pick projects here and there," said Councilwoman Jessie Burley. "The task force is designed to get a big picture of what's available and what's proposed and take a big bite out of that — but not just in a piecemeal fashion."
The town is accepting applications for the task force until the end of the day on Monday, April 10.
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The biggest-ticket item green lighted so far is a 24-unit workforce housing project on the final undeveloped pad at the Basecamp complex, which houses Whole Foods and more than a half-dozen other businesses and restaurants.
That project had been hinted at but its scope was unclear until after the town council clarified some of the language in a restrictive covenant on the property.
In doing so, council also secured an assurance from development group Brynn Grey Partners that 75 percent of the units would be reserved for people working at least 30 hour per week year-round in Frisco and the surrounding Tenmile Basin. The remaining 25 percent would be open to workers countywide.
Brynn Grey CEO David O'Neil said the company hasn't decided yet whether the units would be allotted through a bidding process or a lottery.
"We'll have a full release in May where we get really specific about what we're offering in terms of price point," he said. "Hopefully, by June we'll be cutting up the ground."
The development is still in the planning phases, but O'Neil described the concept as several structures with retail space for small businesses on the first floor and micro-condominiums on the second.
That would represent a shift away from the big-box retail model that prevailed around the time Basecamp was first built up in 2014.
The transit-oriented development would also seek to capitalize on coming improvements to the Frisco Transfer Station, which is due for a $3 million facelift in 2018.
The Basecamp project will be privately funded, as will the conversion of office space above the Wendy's on Summit Boulevard into four units reserved for the restaurant and gas station's employees. The town council approved changes to zoning restrictions to make that project possible.
On the public side of the ledger, council has also made progress on a town-owned workforce-housing development on Galena Street that would add eight new affordable units. At last month's meeting, members approved a sketch plan of the project to be sent to the planning commission, a key step forward.
Half of the units will be reserved for town employees, and the remaining four will be set aside for workers at local businesses, town manager Randy Ready said.
Further down the horizon, the town could potentially enter into an agreement with the Colorado Department of Transportation to build affordable housing on land the agency owns on the corner of Granite Street and Seventh Avenue.
That could potentially add 23 units, some of which would be reserved for CDOT employees. The agency is currently exploring a possible project, and Frisco would be "first in line" for any potential partnership, Ready said.