Silverthorne pushes forward with plan for workforce housing at Smith Ranch
After more than a decade of uphill battles to plan a workforce housing development at Smith Ranch in Silverthorne, the town is moving forward with infrastructure construction and design planning.
Mark Leidal, the assistant town manager of Silverthorne, said the town had previously put out a request for proposals for infrastructure construction in the area. The application session is closed, and all that’s left is for the town to pick a developer.
The Smith Ranch property is approximately 52-acres of land off of Blue River Parkway. On either side of the property is a Kum and Go gas station, and the Our Lady of Peace Church. Both properties have roads leading slightly into the property, and Leidal said that the infrastructure design plan would ideally extend them further. The infrastructure would also help build water and sewer lines for the new community. Infrastructure would help the town get closer to housing construction.
“We did go out for request for proposals for engineering services to design the basic infrastructure that we would need … to help us get to the first building permit should we get there,” Leidal said.
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The town has budgeted $1.5 million for design and construction in 2017.
The town of Silverthorne first bought the Smith Ranch property in 2008 after rezoning it from agricultural use to residential. But the economic downturn put a halt on further development. Plans were revived in 2014, but housing funding from taxes at the time were not enough to cover construction.
“When we looked at responses to that RFP there was just this huge gap, we weren’t in a position where we could tackle that,” Hyland said.
Before the town bought the property in 2008, private developers also eyed it for possible workforce housing developments as far back as 2003. Hyland said that over the years the town has had at least 15 different design illustrations for Smith Ranch. After voters approved 5A in November, he added that the town is better prepared to fund a project of this size.
“Now we actually have the opportunity to go vertical and build the neighborhood there,” Hyland said.
In 2011, the town purchased an additional 11-acre commercial property that would be on the edge of Blue River Parkway, in front of the Smith Ranch development. The town is hoping to put a community grocery store in the area to help compliment the new neighborhood. The infrastructure construction that the town is currently working toward will help connect Smith Ranch to the commercial plot as well as surrounding neighborhoods like Willowbrook.
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Although construction on housing at Smith Ranch is still in the distant future, the town’s mayor, Bruce Butler, is hoping to get as far along in the process as possible for 2017. In previous attempts to jump-start a development, the town had sent out requests for proposals. As part of the new incarnation of the area, the town will create a new request, after consulting with community business owners.
“I think we need to spend some quality time with our various businesses in town and really listen to them about their needs and the type of housing that fits their workforce,” Butler said. “I think that elected officials need to listen to the public, and the public is telling us that they are willing to step up and commit to trying to create workforce housing inventory.”
As the town’s representative on the county Housing Authority Board, council member JoAnne Nadalin said that it’s also important to recognize the needs of Summit County as a whole.
“It’s important that we’re all talking to each other,” she said. “You can’t ignore the fact that we all live in the county.”
She added that communication between Summit’s municipalities can better serve members of the workforce who need to commute for jobs.
Hyland said that the intent is to maximize the area available for construction. While there will be some market units in the new development, the town will push to have the majority be for workforce housing. The development will likely have a mix of for sale units and homes as well as rentals.
“It’s nice to be getting out of the history of doing a whole lot of different plans and being at an action point,” Hyland said. “It’s a perfect location for a local’s neighborhood.”
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