Silverthorne council gives final approval to build income-based Smith Ranch apartments

Unanimous vote paves way for construction of housing units aimed at low- and middle-income residents

The Smith Ranch neighborhood in Silverthorne is pictured Jan. 27, 2022. The site is set to house an additional 135 income-based apartments following final approval by the town council on Feb. 22, 2023.
Ashley Low/Summit Daily News archive

A plan to build 135 income-based apartments in Silverthorne’s Smith Ranch neighborhood received final approval from town council members during a Feb. 22 meeting, paving the way for a groundbreaking as soon as May with a completion date possibly in early 2025. 

The units, set to be built in three separate structures, will be capped for Summit County residents and employees making between 30 and 120% of the area median income which, according to 2022 figures from the Summit Combined Housing Authority, translates to an income range of $21,990 to $87,960.

Councilmembers’ endorsement of a project that they said was “desperately needed” to combat the area’s affordable housing crisis is the latest such approval of a housing initiative led by Gorman & Co., which developed the Wintergreen apartments in Keystone and Alta Verde in Breckenridge

Town Manager Ryan Hyland said the process has been a balancing act of “wanting to make sure we can get as much density as we can but also not do so much that it’s not livable.”

“I think it’s a design we can be proud of and folks who live there can be proud of,” Hyland continued. 

Gorman had agreed to several revisions to win council’s approval — both practical and aesthetic. For example, more greenery was added to street edges and further areas for snow storage have been identified. 

“Our public works department was very concerned and they really wanted that area defined better,” said  Lima Lesmes, the town’s housing manager, of snow storage removal. 

Design elements, such as the buildings’ roofs, canopies and entranceways, have been further accentuated. 

Some concern was raised about parking, with Councilmember Tim Applegate questioning if the project would have a “parking deficit.”

According to Lesmes, there are enough parking spaces to support one space for each one-bedroom unit as well as a space for each two- and three-bedroom unit. 

Between the three buildings, two of which will be income capped at 80 to 120% of the area median income and one which will be capped at 30 to 60%, there will be 79 one-bedroom units, 25 two-bedroom and 31 three-bedroom. 

Still, the site will likely have less parking than residents, Lesmes said, but added: “I think that Gorman wouldn’t put something together that they thought wasn’t going to work.”

Silverthorne has invested a cash subsidy of just under $1.63 million, about $25,000 per unit, into the project along with $869,000 in waived tap fees and an estimated $2 million for leasing the land. The project also received federal tax credits to help subsidize the 30 to 60% area median income units in November, which, according to town officials, helped make the low-income portion of the initiative possible. 

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