Summit County officials lose confidence in proposed Breckenridge-area housing development

Only three of the proposed 14 market-rates homes have been constructed, with no movement on any of the promised 22 deed-restricted units

Construction at the Trails at Berlin Placer pictured on Wednesday, Sept. 27. A mixed-housing site approved for development in 2017, the project has been stymied by numerous setbacks that have left Summit County officials unsure of its fate.
Robert Tann/Summit Daily News

Six years after Summit County officials approved the rezoning of a 23-acre parcel near Breckenridge for mixed-residential development, county leaders are pessimistic the project will ever come to fruition.

The Trails at Berlin Placer was meant to be the site of 14 market-rate single-family homes and 22 deed-restricted multifamily housing units east of Breckenridge. After rezoning the area to allow for the development in 2017, county officials said there has been little movement on the project. 

Three market-rate homes have been constructed under “various conditions,” said county community development director Steve Greer during a Monday, Sept. 25, Summit Board of County Commissioners meeting. 

“However, the road and utility infrastructure has not been completed or has failed inspection and needs to be reconstructed to meet minimum construction requirements,” Greer said. 

Even if the infrastructure needs are met, the county cannot issue certificates of occupancy to any of the three market-rate homes until the first 10 deed-restricted units have been built, due to a provision of the rezoning, Greer said. 

According to officials, no workforce units have yet been constructed. 

“It was expressly understood and required within the development permit that the development of the affordable workforce unit must progress in advance or in tandem with the development of market-rate, single-family units,” Greer said. 

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In 2021, a trench collapse killed a 20-year-old worker, Marlon Diaz, who was doing excavation work in the area of the development. Peter Dillon, the former owner of the now-defunct company A4S Construction, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in August after prosecutors laid out evidence of what they called “a pattern of unsafe behavior” that led to what the Department of Labor called a “preventable” death.

According to county engineer Paul Geiger, the incident caused a roughly six-month pause on the project while a federal agency investigated. After a new excavator was brought on, the prior excavation work was deemed “unacceptable,” pushing the project back even further, Geiger said. 

Construction is currently ongoing, with sewer and water infrastructure 75% to 80% complete, Geiger said. Still, officials expressed doubt about the project, in particular its workforce housing component.

After reaching out to the developer to try and “fix some of these issues,” county deputy attorney Keely Ambrose said she is “not at all confident that we will be able to reach an agreement.”

“All I can say is the county has legal avenues of recourse that will not necessarily make anything happen any faster,” Ambrose said. 

Commissioner Tamara Pogue said it was “a very frustrating situation, both for the market-rate owners and for us, as the entity that has the interest in this affordable housing.”

“We all know there’s desperate need for that,” Pogue said. “It’s disappointing to hear that this developer doesn’t seem interested in doing what they have told everyone they would do.”

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