What’s the next step in Breckenridge workforce housing? | SteamboatToday.com

What’s the next step in Breckenridge workforce housing?

Eli Pace/Summit Daily
This conceptual rendering shows how a planned apartments project on the town-owned Block 11 property in Breckenridge could look once complete. The project is the next stage in Breckenridge’s drive to create more workforce housing in town.
Courtesy photo

Breckenridge council members took an in-depth look Tuesday at the town’s next step in workforce housing — the Block 11 Apartments.

The apartments are slated to go up on 4.8 acres directly south of the Blue 52 Townhomes, and grading work is underway. Block 11 sits north of downtown, between Coyne Valley Road and Valley Brook Street, with about 18 acres designated for housing. Build out of Block 11 is expected to take place sometime within the next five years.

The apartments stand as one of the first in a line of looming workforce-housing projects on the property. Because the apartments will be so visible from Highway 9, they’re being envisioned as a “first-impression site.”

With that in mind, architects said they tried to vary up the designs with different building sizes, stoops, steps, rooflines and massing to soften the edges and create a taper that’s pleasing to the eye. Based on council’s comments, it appears they’ve succeeded.

The schedule calls for the installation of infrastructure in the late summer and fall with vertical construction in spring 2019. If everything goes according to plan, the first apartments could be available for lease in late 2019. The project will be funded by the voter-approved housing tax.

The goal is to create a neighborhood along the Blue River with a mix of residential densities and different housing types at a variety of price points as Breckenridge continues to chip away at what senior planner Laurie Best described as a “perpetual” problem.

“Our most significant need by far is apartments in the Upper Blue,” she said of Breckenridge’s housing crisis. “We have been adding some townhomes and some for-sale products … but our most significant need is apartments.”

The new apartments Breckenridge is looking to build are meant to target lower income households. Rental rates are yet to be determined, but the hope is to give “front-line employees,” or workers whose wages range from $13-$18 an hour, some additional housing options.

“There’s just so little inventory to serve a really broad range of income targets, from front-line employees that work on Main Street to folks like me, teachers or others in the community who are looking for a rental option,” Best said. “There are just no rental options.”

The site plan includes six studio apartments, also called “micro units” at about 400 square feet each, along with 90 more one- and two-bedroom apartments with washers and dryers, full-size kitchens, parking and extra storage closets.

The total project price tag is expected to come in at $25.2 million, but that could change as plans continue to get refined and a general contractor comes onboard. The town will be the owner of the apartments.

Coming into Tuesday’s work session, town staff were forecasting 96 new apartments in 10 buildings with a community building and “a significant central open space” for the Block 11 Apartments.

Most council members were highly supportive of the project, but with only six micro units in the mix, Mayor Eric Mamula felt like they were “missing the boat.”

“At some point, we need to get more people on acreage because we’re running out of dirt,” he said, expressing his desire to see more studio apartments and less of a focus on parking. “I will just boil it down to say we’re running out of room and we need to get as many people on this dirt as possible because we have a huge housing crisis.”

While other council members talked about what they liked about the project, nobody seemed too terribly receptive to the idea of devoting one of the buildings to a community center. As discussions continued, one of the architects did some “quick cowboy math” and estimated the community center could instead be used for an additional 16-17 micro units, and that was well received.

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