Vail Resorts’ partner submits Keystone workforce housing proposal
December 5, 2016
Summit County is currently in the review process for a 28-acre workforce housing site in Keystone from a development partner of Vail Resorts.
Affordable housing firm Gorman & Company filed the application for the proposed 196-unit Wintergreen Neighborhood on Nov. 21 in follow up to the June announcement of an agreement with the ski resort company to construct new residences for seasonal workers. The deal called for Vail to lease the property to Gorman, located between Keystone and Dillon on the north side of U.S. Highway 6, for $35,400 per year in exchange for the construction of the workforce units. Vail Resorts announced last December it would pledge $30 million and land it owned to help solve the resort housing crises in Colorado, California and Utah.
The initial development plan calls for combining three parcels on the 61-acre tract of land to reallocate density within the property boundary and improve development of the site. That would provide the opportunity to build up to 243 rental units of employee housing, in addition to 2,000 square-feet of commercial space and child-care and other community facilities. One other plot of about 25 acres in the Wintergreen Subdivision would remain undeveloped as open space.
Another 10-acre plot at the site, known as Parcel D, is in the process of being conveyed over to the county as a potential location of future public affordable housing per a preexisting land development agreement that dates to the mid-1990s. Attorneys for Vail and the county began their discussions on the transfer this fall. County manager Scott Vargo said he is optimistic the language of the contract would be completed and the land with 8 buildable acres would change hands by the end of the year. A preliminary site plan conducted by a local developer estimates it would be suitable for at least 54 units.
In the meantime, the imagined 28.4-acre Wintergreen Neighborhood from Gorman suggests 36 units for seasonal workers, 40 low-income rentals mixed between studio, one-, two- , and three-bedroom configurations, and 120 year-round units, also in the studio-to-three-bedroom layouts. Though subject to change, the seasonal housing is currently proposed as approximately 200 square-feet per occupant with up to two occupants per bedroom in bunk beds.
These same dormitory-style accommodations presently exist at the three Tenderfoot Lodge buildings in Keystone through the 2017-18 ski season after the Board of County Commissioners granted Vail approval to add the beds in June as a short-term solution to the seasonal housing shortage. The authorization increased the number of beds by 102 at the complex, from a potential of 358 residents to 460, and the three commissioners said at the time such an arrangement would be temporary in nature.
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As part of the review process, the county's planning department has asked Gorman for a comprehensive breakdown of the number of each housing configuration among the 196 units, and clarification on the intended number of occupants. That response is due by mid-December and that will be followed by revisions to the application before county staff would hand the document over to the Snake River Planning Commission as early as Jan. 19 of next year and schedule a hearing with the Board of County Commissioners for possible approval.
A spokesman for the planning department described Gorman's overall timeline aggressive, but possible. With other steps before and after, the application cites a potential county commissioner hearing by Feb. 14, followed by finalizing design and submission of a building permit between the third and fourth quarter of 2017. Units would be available for lease about 15 months thereafter.
Gorman's request also asks that the document governing the area's development, known as the Keystone PUD (planned unit development), be amended to permit members of Vail's workforce throughout the county to live at Wintergreen instead of strictly Keystone Resort employees. Under existing PUD language, only employees who work in the Snake River Basin — where Keystone is situated — may live in such properties.
The application notes Wintergreen has long been identified as a potential site of employee housing dating to 2010 in the Snake River Master Plan Update. The site sits 2 miles from Keystone Resort and 6 miles from Arapahoe Basin Ski Area. Grocery and retail stores in Dillon are 5 miles away, and two of the Summit School District's elementary schools, Summit Cove and Dillon Valley, are about 2 and 6 miles from the land parcel, respectively.
"The Wintergreen site has always been envisioned to provide affordable workforce housing in the Keystone area," project documents state, "and this proposal seeks to deliver these much-needed homes. The accessibility of employment from the subject site enhances its ability to provide the much-needed affordable housing for the workforce of Summit County."
The potential development already has utilities either nearby or on site. Wintergreen is located within the Snake River Water District boundary, and the proposed neighborhood would receive service through a water line that exists adjacent to the site and parallel to Highway 6. A sewer for waste water would be provided by the Snake River Sanitation District and a sewer line sits in a utility easement just west within the nearby Antler's Gulch Townhomes.
Additionally, the plan foresees sufficient parking to go along with the varied multi-family home options, a robust pedestrian sidewalk network, as well as trails and open spaces for tenants. Potential connections would be made to the existing Frey Gulch Trail System, as well as to Keystone Grocery and Gas, a Summit Stage bus stop and the current Keystone shuttle stop on Tennis Club Road.
"Wintergreen will provide a range of housing options for those who work in the County," Kimball Crangle, Gorman's Colorado market president, said by email. "We have all heard how short the supply is of housing and Wintergreen will help alleviate this issue. Our plan is to offer rental housing for those earning $10-to-$12 per hour, as well as those who earn year-round professional salaries."
To review documents associated with Gorman & Co.'s Wintergreen Neighborhood proposal, visit: co.summit.co.us/254/Projects-Under-Review