Centura Health looks to build workforce housing project in Frisco
Centura Health is in the early stages of bringing new workforce housing units to Frisco, hoping to provide more affordable options for employees and other members of the community.
Centura plans to build a new workforce housing project at 18 School Road, a site owned by Centura and occupied by the Summit Vista Professional Building, which would be demolished in anticipation of the new development. The proposed development took its first major step forward during a Frisco Town Council meeting Tuesday, Feb. 9.
The site is zoned as a light industrial district by Frisco, which doesn’t allow for residential development. Centura Health, through its developer Traditional Neighborhood Developers, applied to have the site rezoned to a mixed-use district, which would allow for future residential units at the location. Town officials were supportive of the idea and approved an ordinance on first reading to rezone the area.
“I think it’s great,” council member Andrew Aerenson said. “The great part of this is it’s a private enterprise solving its own problem, which is housing.”
Town officials have yet to review a development application for the site, but the 3.8-acre plot potentially could fit about 53 units if built to the maximum density allowed by town codes, according to Bill Gibson, Frisco’s assistant community development director. St. Anthony Summit Medical Center CEO Lee Boyles said the group is looking to build about 37 units.
Centura has had its share of housing difficulties, according to Cindy Farnsworth, human resources director at St. Anthony’s. Farnsworth said that over the past three years, the hospital — which is part of Centura — has had more than 24 job candidates turn down positions due to difficulties finding housing. She added that in the past year, about 50 people have resigned from the organization, a majority referencing that they couldn’t afford to live in Summit County.
“We do engagement surveys (with our staff) three times a year, and the thing that comes up every time is, ‘What can you do to help us with housing?’” Farnsworth said. “So this is the first step, just by asking for this rezoning, where we can actually have the opportunity to go to mixed usage where we would be able to build affordable housing.”
Boyles said that while the development would make a big difference for Centura, the company isn’t anticipating using all 37 units initially, and the project would serve other members of the workforce, as well.
“This really allows us to leverage that asset and the land that we have for the community,” Boyles said. “It’s not only affordable housing for us, but units that we aren’t going to occupy, we want those to be able to be available to other town employers, to other members of the community and to keep those rates affordable.”
The town of Frisco also is focusing on efforts to increase housing options for the local workforce.
In December, Frisco purchased a one-bedroom condominium in the Mountain Side development for $410,000 through the town’s Housing Helps program, which was approved by the Town Council in 2019 as a means to help locals obtain and maintain affordable housing.
The Town Council discussed options for the unit during the Tuesday meeting, including trying to rent or resell the unit with a deed restriction. The council ultimately decided to keep the unit as part of its rental inventory and to rent the unit at 100% of area median income, despite some debate as to the efficacy of using AMI limits and what the cap should be.
However, during a special council session Thursday, Feb. 11, the council decided to reconsider the decision during a future session March 9, when the group is set to have a more holistic conversation about the Housing Helps program and housing in the town at large.
“I would like to discuss it again,” council member Melissa Sherburne said. “I think there was more to be considered. I feel like after sleeping on it, really considering the information that we had and the information we didn’t have, we very well may land in the same place. But I actually don’t support where it landed right now. … I would like to have more of a comprehensive discussion, a little bit more of a data-driven discussion, to see how that might shape things out.”
The town also continues to make progress on the joint workforce housing project with the Colorado Department of Transportation. During a council work session Jan. 26, Frisco entered into an agreement with Studio Architecture to provide architecture, engineering and site-planning services for the project, a proposed workforce development on a 0.58-acre CDOT owned lot at 619 Granite St.
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