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From affordables to rateables

Trappeur's Crossing developer, architect aim to keep costs down

An artist's rendering shows Building 6 of Trappeur's Crossing, which will include six affordable units. The affordable units will be separated from market rate units, which the developer and architect hope will decrease the homeowner's association fees.
Courtesy Photo

— Trappeur’s Crossing developer Michael Hurley and architect Eric Smith think they have addressed some of the problems that come with incorporating mandated affordable housing alongside luxury vacation condominiums.

One of their solutions is to separate those who live in the affordable units from those who are vacationing.

Just building the affordable housing on-site has presented challenges for developers in Steamboat, but there are long-term challenges, as well.



Smith and Hurley are the first Steamboat developers to address the high homeowners association fees in a vacation community that affordable unit owners are not immune from.

Smith owns a one-bedroom unit in Trappeur’s Crossing, and each month he pays $800 for the tennis courts, pools, shuttle van, concierge, property maintenance and common area expenses that are a part of the community. Then there are the potential special assessments that could arise that would be potentially cost prohibitive for someone who needs every dollar earned to pay the mortgage on the affordable housing unit.



To keep the association fees down for the six affordable units that will be included in Building 6 of Trappeur’s Crossing, the units will have their own entrance to separate the units from the market-rate units. The affordable-unit owners will still be able to use the pool, tennis courts and other amenities, but they will not have to pay for some of the amenities the market-rate unit owners pay for, such as maintaining the elevators and cleaning the lobby areas.

“They can pay for what they use,” said Hurley, adding that recreational amenities would not be restricted because that would be difficult to police and possibly cause conflict among owners.

He estimated the monthly association fees for the affordable units would be between $200 and $450 a month. A sub-association would be created under the umbrella of the master homeowners association.

“One of the challenges is creating a good relationship between the association and the (affordable-unit) owners,” said Smith, who also is on the Yampa Valley Housing Authority board.

The design of Building 6, the last building in the Trappeur’s Crossing community, won praise from city staff, planning commissioners and City Council members.

They applauded the solution to high homeowners fees.

“That was a great way of trying to deal with it,” said Jonathan Spence, the city’s senior planner. “A lot of projects have been trying to figure that out.”

The housing plan has not been approved by the council yet, but the council members have voiced their support for the plan. The housing plan was tabled by the council Tuesday because Hurley had included an exit strategy that would allow him to sell the affordable units at a market rate, should the deed-restricted affordable units not sell within 12 months after construction. That detail still has to be worked out.

City officials also voiced their support for six smaller affordable units, rather than four larger units called for in the inclusionary zoning ordinance. Hurley said the six units, which average 781 square feet, will be more marketable and desirable. With the six-unit option, there are a total of about 1,000 more square feet devoted to affordable units.

“We’ve got smaller units, but I think they’ll be more affordable,” Hurley said.

City officials also praised the developer and architect for including the units on-site and for the overall design.

The six affordable units would be located on the ground floor and would have utilities independent of the rest of the building. With their own entrance, the people living in the affordable units are purposely segregated from the people in the market-rate units.

Smith said what they were essentially doing is “social engineering,” but designing the building so permanent affordable-unit residents do not mix with vacationers was necessary to avoid potential conflict.

“You have lifestyles of two different types of people who are there for two different purposes,” Smith said.

About 70 percent of all Trappeur’s Crossing units are in the short-term rental pool.

To further avoid any lifestyle conflicts, the floor above the affordable units will be built on a 12-inch concrete slab.

“There will be no noise whatsoever,” Smith said.

– To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210

or e-mail mstensland@steamboatpilot.com


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