Frisco works to redevelop two properties to create almost 100 units of workforce housing

The properties at 602 Galena Street and 101 Main Street could be redeveloped as part of a potential agreement between Frisco and a national housing nonprofit.

This property at 101 Main Street could be redeveloped as workforce housing as part of a potential development agreement between Frisco and a private developer.
Ryan Spencer/Summit Daily News

Frisco town staff are negotiating with a private developer in hopes of redeveloping properties at 101 W. Main St. and 602 Galena St. to produce nearly 100 income-restricted rental units to help support the local workforce.

A development agreement between the town and The NHP Foundation, a national nonprofit developer, that lays out the proposed 100% affordable housing projects could be before the Frisco Town Council at its next meeting, according to Mayor Hunter Mortensen.

“This is one of those opportunities as a town and as mayor that I never thought would fall and present itself to us like this,” Mortensen said. “But it has.”

Town staff members presented initial details about the proposed projects to Town Council on March 28. In total, 94 deed- and income-restricted rental units have been proposed between the two properties. Those could include studio, one- and two-bedroom rental units with varying levels of income restrictions, from 30% to 120% of the area median income.

Frisco, with assistance from the Summit County government, purchased the 602 Galena St. property last year for about $2.5 million. As part of a development agreement, The NHP Foundation would be seeking a $2.5 million loan from the town to help the nonprofit purchase 101 W. Main St., according to documents presented to the town council.

Town Attorney Thad Renaud said at the council meeting last month that the town could realistically expect only about $500,000 of the loan to be repaid, essentially meaning the town would be making a $2 million “grant” to the developer. Frisco would also grant a 65-year ground lease of the 602 Galena St. property to The NHP Foundation for the project.

“What these two projects would do is provide a significant amount of workforce housing that is for rent,” Community Development Director Don Reimer said. “And for-rent housing is probably one of the biggest challenges in our community. This will fill a void in a lot of the workforce rental housing units.”

Mortensen noted that the county’s needs assessment has identified income-restricted rental units as the biggest need for Summit County’s workforce. He said the total $5 million price tag, between the purchase of 602 Galena St. and the loan to The NHP Foundation, to generate almost 100 units of workforce housing is to the town’s benefit.

“We’re always trying to be aware of the monies and tax dollars that have been entrusted to us,” Mortensen said. “I think we are maximizing the investment the town has to put in — in a way the town could never have done on our own.”

Reimer noted that the proposed development at 101 W. Main St. will also include commercial space that is being considered as a location for mental health offices. 

Meanwhile, a 3,000-square-foot day care center is being considered for the proposed development at 602 Galena St. and, under an agreement with the county, any development there will be required to include offices for the Colorado Workforce Center, he said.

“So it’s not just housing,” Reimer said. “It’s also the potential provision for child care as well as other services that support the local workforce.”

While negotiations are still ongoing, Reimer said that if Frisco signs onto a development agreement, he expects The NHP Foundation to be aggressive with the development timeline. The nonprofit has indicated it wants to break ground as soon as this time next year, he said.

“I think they’re both really exciting opportunities for the town, as town government, but also for the community as a whole,” Reimer said. “We’ve seen a number of our businesses really struggling to have enough employees to operate their business, and this kind of project could really help.”

Mortensen, meanwhile, noted the projects are proposed in ideal locations for workforce housing, since they are located near bike paths, bus stops and downtown.

“These are units where truly somebody can live there, not have a car, be able to get to work, be able to get to town and actually be able to live in a nice new unit,” he said.

Mortensen also said town staff members are negotiating with another developer who owns a parcel of land adjacent to town-owned land at 275 Granite St. and has proposed a joint project that could result in additional workforce housing. 

Between that proposal, the potential projects at 101 W. Main St. and 602 Galena St. and a project to construct 22-units of workforce housing in collaboration with the Colorado Department of Transportation, he said Frisco is making great headway on housing issues.

“We’re on pace to create more housing and workforce housing this year than I believe Frisco has ever done in its entirety,” Mortensen said. “That I think is really a testament to the goals the council has set out to achieve in the housing world. I’m pretty darn proud of that.”

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