Town of Breckenridge takes a look at workforce development that would address ‘the missing middle’

This rendering shows one concept for the Stables Village neighborhood, which will aim to address middle-class families in Summit County.
Town of Breckenridge/Courtesy image

Town staff and developers presented options to Breckenridge Town Council regarding Stables Village, an affordable housing project that aims to address housing needs for middle class families. 

The proposed Stables Village would be adjacent to the Lincoln Park neighborhood. In May, the Town issued a request for proposals for a new housing development to provide affordable homeownership on the 38-acre Stillson Parcel, which is owned by the town.

Previously, the parcel was being used by the Breckenridge Equestrian Center, which moved out Nov. 1. Other current uses of the property include storage for the town’s public works department equipment. It also served as an Open Space Division storage shed, as well as a temporary composting location.

Town staff selected a team led by local architect Suzanne Allen-Sabo as the developer to work with on this project. Allen-Sabo has brought in the Denver-based, sustainability-focused contractor Thrive Home Builders. If approved, this development will be the first carbon-neutral, net-zero housing development in the country, Melanie Leas, Housing Project Manager, said Tuesday.

“After the initial feedback from Council, we’ve worked with (the development team) to downsize the proposed development to two different options between 40 and 64 units across seven acres, which will utilize the flat portion of the Stillson Parcel, only, and will not change any of the uses for public works,” Leas said. “We’re very excited about this opportunity to work with a quality local architect, as their team understands our code and is deeply connected to the community.”

The group presented two options. One would be ​​64 units between 80-140% of the area median income. The development would require a total subsidy from the town of about $7.12 million. This subsidy includes $2,500,000 for infrastructure costs, including upgrading Stables Road, water, sewer, civil work and utilities; $50,000 per unit for general construction costs; and $22,000 per unit to achieve net-zero standards.

The second includes 40 units with a mix of single-family homes, duplexes and townhomes at 120-160% of the area median income. This proposal would require a larger subsidy from the town of about $11.28 million. The infrastructure amount will remain the same at $2.5 million, along with the net-zero per unit cost of $22,000. However, the cost per unit for construction is $198,000. This increase is a result of decreased revenue from fewer units being provided and a higher hard cost per square foot for single family units, according to a town memo. 

Council member Todd Rankin said that addressing the “missing middle,” or families that make too much to qualify for low-income housing units but not enough to buy market-rate homes in Summit County. According to data from the Summit County Housing Authority, a family of three making 80% of the area median income has an annual income of $75,440. A family of three at 110% of the area median income makes $103,730.

“I think probably the question I get the most out in public — it’s like, ‘I’ve got a one-bedroom in Blue 52’ or ‘I’ve got a two-bedroom in Wellington. Are you going to build more stuff that we can upgrade to?’” Rankin said. “To me, this is an opportunity to really invest in that middle layer of our workforce — folks who’ve been here five to 10 years. They figured out that they like it, and they’re cool shoveling (snow) in May, and they’re trying to figure out how their life is going to exist in the mountains.”

Mayor Eric Mamula said that impacts to adjacent neighborhoods are a concern, especially if doing a Phase 2 of Stables Village is being considered in the future. 

“I’ve said this before: it can’t always be everything just because we need units,” Mamula said. “There’s got to be a livability issue — not just for the people that are going to live here, but the people that live next door in Lincoln Park and Wellington and have lived there for a long time,” Mamula said. “And you’re still putting a bunch of people there. We’ve got to honor the fact that the people who live next door aren’t going to like this. We need to make sure that it is the best.”

Now, town staff will work with what mix of units will work best for the space as well as proposing amendment to the land use guidelines and deed restrictions, a process that has been done for all of the town’s affordable housing projects.

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