Despite rising construction costs, Smith Ranch child care project continues forward

Project would take some shuffling of town funds, but Silverthorne leadership says investment is well worth it

The Smith Ranch neighborhood, pictured Thursday, Jan. 27, is the location of Silverthorne’s new child care facility, which is slated to open mid-2023.
Ashley Low/For the Summit Daily News

In tandem with rising costs of construction and supplies, the estimated cost of constructing the Smith Ranch child care building in Silverthorne has also risen. Silverthorne town leadership will move forward with the endeavor to aid the local child care shortage.

Original estimates back in July had the complete cost of the facility at $4 million. At the time, Summit County and the town of Silverthorne would share the cost, contributing $3 million and $1 million, respectively. In January, that estimate rose to closer to approximately $8.5 million. Now, the current price tag for the Smith Ranch facility is $9.7 million.

Over the past year, construction costs across the nation have been rising, making the cost for Smith Ranch child care project more expensive, as well. Now, the project is estimated to cost over $9 million. | Source: Silverthorne Childcare Authority
Land value$1.2 million
Site development$150,000
Design, consulting, etc.$345,061
Other soft costs$158,422
Utility costs and tap fees$235,000
Construction costs$7.18 million
Estimated contingency493,080
TOTAL$9.76 million

Because of higher costs, the Silverthorne Childcare Authority — a group of local stakeholders — has proposed that the town update its contribution.

According to a memo to the Town Council, the updated contribution to the child care center would be $2.35 million. Of that, $1.2 million would be the land value (which is already provided), $150,000 for the site development (which has been completed) and another $1 million that would be split evenly between the capital improvement fund and either nicotine sales or 5A housing funds. Council member Kevin McDonald and Town Manager Ryan Hyland said that given the current trajectory of the revenue for the funds potentially being used for the increased contributions, the town should be able to afford putting more money into the construction.

“Ryan and I felt that this is like a good balance and a shared sacrifice between us and the county,” McDonald said. “The facility is in Silverthorne, so you would think that most of the kids are going to be Silverthorne kids. There could be some that come down from Frisco. But for sure, this side of (Interstate 70) will get most of the benefit for that.”

The rest of the money to construct the facility will be a combination of $3 million from the Strong Futures Fund, $3.41 million from Summit County and $1 million in grant efforts from both the town of Silverthorne and the county.

McDonald said that the group also looked at existing buildings to potentially use for the facility instead of a custom-built project, but the options that were available to the Silverthorne Childcare Authority were either too expensive, had a problematic location and size or could potentially be used for the next couple of years because of the current tenants.

The current vision for the facility is for the building to be approximately 9,000 square feet and initially serve 65 to 70 students ranging from infant to preschool age. The design, according to the memo, notably contains additional space to expand the number of day care students, and the space could potentially host children after school in the future. In recent weeks, Keystone Science School closed for the school year due to staffing issues, leaving other after-school programs across the county working together to try to provide care to around 50 kids who had been attending Keystone Science School.

McDonald said that the group discussed the possibility of a modular building — similar to one of Vail’s newest facilities — but the increased costs for those types of structures were not feasible.

Council members agreed that finding supplementary sources of funding through grants would be the next step in the process. McDonald said that county leadership’s connections to grant funding and finding relevant sources would be a good asset for the facility.

“The county’s got help and their expertise on those grants,” McDonald said. “They just have ties to state agencies that we don’t have access to — both politically and just structurally. I’ve said that, even though I’m rolling off council here in less than a month, I’d be willing to stick around for grant applications.”

Some access to grants initially will be limited since the child care facility is an intergovernment entity and not a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and many grants only provide funding to nonprofits. However, the authority will engage in a request for proposal process later in 2022 to identify a child care operator, and establish a new 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity and potentially board of directors. McDonald said that process will not likely begin until about six months before the facility opens.

Currently, the child care is planned to open mid-2023, and there is no specific start date on the construction.

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