Wellington developer eyeing Keystone for affordable housing
KEYSTONE More than a year ago, Wellington Neighborhood developer David ONeil read a comment in the newspaper made by a Snake River planning commissioner about the possibility of a similar affordable housing complex in Keystone. At the time, ONeil was immersed in issues surrounding the second phase of his successful project in Breckenridge, but the remark planted a seed in his mind.Now, hes ready to act.ONeil outlined his initial ideas for a community-oriented affordable housing development in the Wintergreen Neighborhood in Keystone to the Keystone Citizens League Monday evening, garnering positive feedback from the audience.I dont see it doing anything but enhancing this end of the county, said Keystone resident Annette Fricke.The Vail Resorts-owned Wintergreen Neighborhood is located west of the Antlers Gulch Townhomes off Highway 6.ONeil discussed building 100 to 150 units about 60 percent single family homes and 40 percent duplexes and possibly a daycare, ONeil said.Wed love to see a coffee shop with a post office would it be appropriate, ONeil added, drawing laughter and applause from a crowd that had no trouble recalling Vail Resorts controversial decision last year to close the Keystone Post Office.ONeil suggested 20 percent of the homes in the development would be sold at market price a formula that worked well in the Wellington Neighborhood.ONeil pointed out the successes of the neighborhood in Breckenridge, a 122-unit Victorian-style neighborhood that is home to working community members such as the district attorney, the Breckenridge town manager, police officers, doctors and nurses and their families.Its a real mix of real people and out of (all the) homes, to my knowledge we have one rental one long-term rental and thats it. People are there and theyre putting down roots, ONeil said.ONeil recently broke ground on a second, 160-unit phase in the Wellington Neighborhood.Both phases require that the primary wage earner work at least 30 hours per week in Summit County, which would likely be a requirement in the Keystone project, ONeil said. Whether or not there would be an income requirement, such as in Wellington Phase 2, is still open for discussion, he added.The key point in pushing the Keystone project forward is Vail Resorts willingness to sell the approximately 60-acre Wintergreen Neighborhood to ONeil for less than the company paid for it. ONeil said he has a letter of intent from Vail Resorts to allow him to purchase the land, and is hoping to move into a full contract.The benefit for Vail Resorts, ONeil said, would be that his project would fulfill its employee housing needs as outlined in Keystones planned unit development.According to Keystone spokesperson Amy Kemp, the resort must provide rental housing or for-sale housing for 40 percent of its workforce. While the resort is meeting that requirement now, ONeils project would assure that Keystone would continue to comply with the rules when it reaches buildout, Kemp said.While its difficult to determine exact housing needs on a basin-by-basin level in the county, if ONeils proposal moves ahead it would help close in on the housing gap experienced by the entire county, said Summit Housing Authority executive director Bonnie Osborn. You put it anywhere, I dont care, as long as its nice housing, Osborn said.ONeil said he plans to submit a request for a work session with the Board of County Commissioners in the next few days to get the formal discussions rolling. If all the pieces of the project come together, ONeil said people could expect to see some progress on the ground next year.Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13625, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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