Keystone’s West Hills workforce-housing project passes final county hurdle
August 8, 2017
The parameters of the West Hills workforce-housing site in Keystone are now on the books after Summit County and a private developer finalized an agreement at a Tuesday meeting.
The compact included the target price per townhome on the first phase of the 66-unit project, deed restriction requirements, homeowners association guidelines and specs for landscaping. The builder, Summit Homes Construction, now believes that construction on the for-sale complex could begin as soon as later this month.
"I'm ready to start on the 18th with a bunch of yellow equipment," said Summit Homes' Tim Crane.
Crane will initially spend time firming up infrastructural needs on the conjoined site that will also include Vail Resorts' 196-unit rental Village at Wintergreen in partnership with developer Gorman & Company. Water and sewer are the first steps, followed by gas and electric through Xcel Energy, and ideally the latter will happen sometime in October.
From there, foundations will be poured on the 11.5-acre parcel and as many as the first two or three homes built by the end of the year. Because Crane is footing the bill on the first 25 units all on his own based on a prior deal to build workforce housing for the ability to produce market-rate, single-family homes at two other Keystone sites, the completion of West Hills' first phase is directly tied to how quickly each unit is bought ahead of time.
"It's all based on sales," he said. "If we can get a model home to sell through the winter, then we'll start in earnest in the spring and maybe we'll get them all done. It's just all based on absorption rate."
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The three triplexes and eight duplexes — roughly 1,150-square-foot townhomes — will be in a similar format as the 15 units finished in January at Copper Mountain known as Copper Point. Summit Homes completed that project as well as approaching 185 other workforce units in the county, including Pinewood Village 2 and the Valley Brook Neighborhood in Breckenridge.
Tuesday's unanimous county board approval solidified townhomes at between 80 and 110 of the area median income, or AMI — a need highlighted in the county's 2016 housing study. The survey states that by the end of 2020, the county needs approaching 400 such ownership units to meet future demand.
Through a new income cap component, prospective homebuyers will be allowed to make upwards of 20 percent more than the designated AMI per townhome. For example, if a unit is marketed at 90 percent AMI, a buyer may make up to 110 percent at the time of purchase.
"It doesn't change the price of the unit," said Nicole Bleriot, county housing director. "But it allows a little more flexibility for the application process in getting the right population into the right units."
West Hills, to which the county will be responsible for building the remaining 41 units but can contract Crane and Summit Homes to do so, also sets out the likely future of deed restrictions on county government-overseen housing projects.
Those details include an annual fixed-rate 2 percent appreciation that is independent of all other and previously used markets. Real estate commissions on sales may also not exceed 1.75 percent, and capital improvements will be capped at 10 percent over a decade.
"This is in some ways charting some new ground for us," said County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier. "I really appreciate all the brain damage that's gone into this and all of the flexibility that's built into it, because we just can't tell the future very well."
Current plans for the remaining 41 units are three triplexes and 32 condos spread across four buildings. Like the first 25 townhomes, each will come with a one-car garage.
Consent to whether Summit Homes will ultimately be picked to complete all of West Hills is not a foregone conclusion based on Tuesday's approval by the county. The two parties did, however, incorporate language into the development deal that emphasizes future partnership.
"We're not done yet," said County Commissioner Thomas Davidson. "We've got a lot more to collaborate on. Any disputes will be resolved by arm wrestling."