The affordable housing shortage in Grand County is especially apparent this time of year. With hundreds of positions to fill, seasonal employers are challenged to fill vacancies with those lucky enough to secure a place to live in the valley. As more second homeowners convert their homes to lucrative short-term rentals, long-term and seasonal tenants find themselves scrambling to find a place to lay their heads.

Local municipalities have long recognized the problem and have been working with developers to incent construction of attainable housing. In the past few weeks, two new attainable housing projects have been approved to proceed with development. In Fraser, The Mill Apartments will offer 60 units when completed. In Granby, the Rodeo Apartments will have 108 units available when finished. Winter Park is also working on another attainable housing complex, Fireside Creek.

While the first dirt has yet to be moved on these projects, it’s a step in the right direction toward solving the local housing conundrum. As average home prices in the county move north of $500K, buying a home is no longer a dream every person or family is able to realize. These new, more affordable housing rentals may help provide the interim step needed to get there.

Rendering of The Mill Apartments courtesy of PWN Architects & Planners, Inc.

The Mill Apartments Awarded 9% LIHTC Tax Credits by CHFA

Last week, Fraser Mill Development, LLC a subsidiary of Grand Park notified Town of Fraser and Grand County officials that The Mill Apartments project was awarded 9% LIHTC Tax Credits by the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA). The project includes 60 units of affordable workforce housing in Fraser, at the corner of Mill Avenue and Leonard Lane, on the Byers Peak Ranch development. The deed-restricted apartments will require median incomes averaging 60% of the Grand County’s median income.

Clark Lipscomb, President of Fraser Mill Development, has been working to solve housing challenges facing the Upper Fraser Valley for years, and Fraser has not received a new affordable housing development since 1995. The Mill Apartments is one of several projects Lipscomb and Grand Park are undertaking to address the area’s housing needs. “Families working in the Fraser Valley are in need of this project and the overwhelming support from local businesses and community leaders is what helped drive this project to award. We are very appreciative of the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority’s consideration and thoughtful approach towards evaluating the project,” said Lipscomb. Utilizing the housing tax credits will allow the development team to build quality affordable housing to serve families with a range of incomes.

Construction will begin in Spring 2020. When completed, residents will live in one-, two- or three-bedroom units of newly constructed three-story apartment buildings. Every unit will feature balconies to enjoy the mountain setting along with enough storage to house recreational gear for mountain living. The project conforms to Enterprise Green Communities and all units will include full kitchens and in-unit washer/dryers. Additionally, a clubhouse will provide a gathering area, fitness area, an outdoor play area, and grills for cooking.

“I fully support this project as affordable housing is the number one issue for employees and low-income families in our community,” said Fraser Mayor Philip Vandernail.

Jeff Durbin, Fraser Town Manager notes that “this project will be a great addition to the Fraser Valley. We are very excited by this opportunity to provide housing for desperately needed employees!”

Rendering of Rodeo Apartments courtesy of Rodeo I LLC

Granby Board approves Rodeo Apartments 

At Tuesday night’s meeting, the Granby Board of Trustees conducted a Public Hearing for the Rodeo Apartments. Set on town land located between the Silver Sage subdivision and Flying Heels Rodeo grounds, the Rodeo project is planned to be developed as a multi-phased apartment development serving the attainable, workforce and independent senior living communities. 

Initially presented to the town in February, the plat had been revised to address staff, engineer and community comments received at that time. The 28.69 acre parcel with deed restrictions to be used for attainable housing would be conveyed by the town to the developer and broken into two lots. 9.763 acre Lot 1 will be developed in Phase 1 of the project as a 108 unit attainable workforce rental apartment community consisting of six, two-story walk-up buildings (24 – 1 BR/1BA, 60 – 2BR/2BA and 24 – 3 BR/2BA units). 

The target market will have earnings between 80-120% of the average median income (AMI) for Grand County. Current AMI at 100%, as set by HUD in 2019, is $55K for an individual, and a family of 4 is $78,500.

According to Rodeo I, LLC and Rodeo II, LLC developer, Mark Unicume, “Lot 2 will be further subdivided as market conditions warrant and subsequent development phases are designed.”

The town’s Planning Commission had approved the submission, with conditions, at their meeting on October 7, 2019. Conditions included addressing concerns from Mountain Parks Electric, compliance with the town’s sanitation district, Xcel Energy and Grand Fire Protection District #1, remitting applicable school fees and receipt of CDOT final approval of an access permit from the property directly on to US 40. Additionally, they requested that no construction traffic be permitted on Silver Sage Road or Rodeo Road.

The developer had received a temporary access permit from CDOT for US 40, but it has a 5 vehicle per hour limitation. Residents of the Silver Sage subdivision had repeatedly expressed their concerns with the traffic impact the development would have during construction and upon completion to their roads. 

Grand County Road & Bridge Superintendent, Chris Baer, wrote a letter to the town to clarify current construction traffic restrictions on CR 894, which is dedicated to the public and maintained by Road & Bridge. Baer advised that his staff can only support construction access to the road by restricting weight to 10,000 lbs (the gross weight of a ¾ ton pick-up) and requiring the developer pay for mag chloride application on the roadway.

Mayor Paul Chavoustie stated, “No access through Silver Sage is the preference.” He suggested Unicume not pave the secondary access road connecting the development with Silver Sage to deter traffic to the primary access point on US 40. Unicume agreed without hesitation.

Long-term, the town would like to see the development feed to the traffic light located at Thompson Road, but BLM restrictions may disallow the option. Chavoustie said, “I am not afraid to march down that path.” He committed to doing the research on the potential option to ease future traffic concerns.

Silver Sage residents expressed their concerns with traffic through their neighborhood and enforcement. “What is the recourse that Silver Sage owners have? Will there be scales on the road? Obviously not! Do we go to the Board, Chief Kraker, the County?” asked resident Christian Hornbaker.

Chief Kraker recommended the residents go to the Sheriff to request directed enforcement monitoring.

The trustees unanimously approved Ordinance No. 921, adding the Road & Bridge language regarding CR 894 to the list of conditions under item 2. g.