Key funding windfall secures 135 apartments for Summit County workforce amid ‘housing crisis’

Tax credits will make the low-income portion of the project possible, town officials say

A sign welcomes people as they enter the Smith Ranch neighborhood in Silverthorne, which includes multiple projects to build affordable housing for Summit County's workforce. Plans to build 135 units at Smith Ranch Apartments are gaining traction now that funding is secured for the low-income housing portion of the project.
Ashley Low/Summit Daily News archive

Construction will begin this spring on 135 for-rent apartments available to Summit County workers who require affordable housing thanks to tax credits that will fund low-income units in the project. 

Smith Ranch Apartments will include three, two- to three-story buildings that will house 65 units for low-income earners and 70 units for what officials are calling the “missing middle,” who are people that make more than the low-income threshold but not enough to buy their own home or pay market rate for rentals in Summit County. The apartments will consist of one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units.

In partnership with the town of Silverthorne, Gorman & Co. received tax credits that will go toward the low-income portion of the project, which will provide units to people making between 30% to 60% of the area median income. According to 2022 figures, one-person households making less than $43,980 and three-person households making less than $56,580 would be eligible for rents offered around $1,100 for a one-bedroom unit, $1,330 for a two-bedroom unit and $1,530 for a three-bedroom unit. 

Gorman & Co. President Kimball Crangle said the tax credits are vital for Silverthorne to meet its goal of building an ample stock of housing for low-income earners. 

“This is great news because these are very competitive funding sources that end up paying for about half of the development cost for the project, which means we get to take that funding to keep rent at affordable levels, below 60% of area median income,” Crangle said. 

If it weren’t for the tax credits, Silverthorne Town Manager Ryan Hyland said the apartments would have to be built with rent caps higher than they are currently being offered. 

These grants are “huge,” Hyland said. “It’s really the only way to be able to offer those (rents) that are that low.”

The 70 other units that will be built for workers making between 80% to 120% of the area’s median income will be funded by tax revenue collected by Summit County’s Measure 5A, which is a voter-approved ballot initiative that collects sales and use taxes for building affordable workforce housing. According to 2022 figures, units in that range are available to one-person households making between $58,640 to $87,960 and three-person households making between $75,440 to $113,160. 

5A is also supporting the construction of 217 deed-restricted, single-family, for-sale units for workers in Summit County making between 80% and 120% of the area median income. That portion of the project is expected to be completed after 27 of the final units are finished in August. 

“I think the bottom line is that any one of these products — whether it’s rental or ownership — I think we have to be really thankful that the voters have been supportive with the 5A dollars because whether its a (tax credit) deal or not, the only way any of these projects are moving forward are that because we have those funds.”

In order to make Smith Ranch Apartments possible, the town of Silverthorne is investing a cash subsidy of $1,625,000 — which is about $25,000 per unit — along with $869,000 in waived tap fees and an estimated $2 million that goes into leasing the land for the project.

Hyland sited ongoing issues with staffing and keeping businesses open like Chipotle Mexican Grill, Starbucks and local shops in Silverthorne as reasons for this project’s need. 

“Finding ways to deliver affordable housing takes a lot of partnership and creativity,” Crangle said. “In Summit County we know that there is a housing scarcity crisis, and the town of Silverthorne had identified this Smith Ranch site as one that needed to have a spectrum of affordable, for-rent housing.”

The only missing piece of the Smith Ranch development is the addition of a grocery store, and the town is continuing to work on courting a company to join the project. 

“We have funding in place now .. which is huge because you can’t build anything unless you have your funding in place,” Hyland said. 

The next step will be going through the formal land-use process involving planning commission meetings and Silverthorne Town Council approval before shovels are expected to hit the ground in the spring. 

Crangle said the three buildings will rise up together. This portion of the project’s construction is expected to last two years once ground is broken.

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