Frisco Town Council has identified affordable workforce housing as one of their top 3 priorities, and is working on a comprehensive housing plan, which incorporates multiple strategies to insure employees are able to live where they work.
What is the housing challenge?
Mountain communities, like Frisco, are great places to visit, and their popularity as vacation destinations commonly results in a shortage of affordable workforce housing because of the prevalence of vacation homes and vacation rentals and the lack of inventory inherent in a community with limited buildable land. Couple this with a tourism based economy, which primarily produces lower paying service jobs, and you have a challenge housing the local workforce. The 2016 Summit County Workforce Housing Demand Update is an excellent resource for understanding the breadth and depth of this challenge.
Frisco recognizes that our community is a better and more vibrant place when our workforce can afford to live and raise their families where they work. Workforce housing is intended to serve all areas of the workforce including first responders, medical care providers, teachers and hospitality and restaurant workers so our residents and visitors have the services vital to preserving their quality of life.
In March 2017, Frisco Town Council made the decision to form a Housing Task Force consisting of community members with diverse backgrounds related to housing. The Housing Task Force had their first meeting on May 11, 2017 and were scheduled to meet twice a month for 6 months going forward (finished meeting in November 2017) . The goal of the task force is to assist Town Council by creating a strategic housing plan for the short and long term workforce housing needs of the community. Areas of recommendation would include housing project priorities, code incentives and 5A fund strategies, among other issues.
Housing Task Force members were chosen by Town Council after a robust application and selection process and will be meeting together at times and in separate groups, one focusing on projects and the other focusing on policy.
In August 2017 the Projects group put together a charrette to look at 3 different Town owned parcels and presented the results to Town Council at an August worksession. The results can be found in the Housing Task Force Charrette Overview.
The Policy focused Housing Task Force members were:
Brett Amedro, Tom Castrigno, Lina Lesmes, Elena Scott, Doug Sullivan, Doug Berg, Kasey Provorse
The Projects focused Housing Task Force members were:
Brian Blankenmeister, Dan Fallon, Joe Maglicic, Mark Sabatini, Lindsay Newman
Council and staff assisting the Housing Task Force:
Kim Cancelosi – Frisco Town Council
Deborah Shaner – Frisco Town Council
Randy Ready – Town of Frisco Town Manager
Joyce Allgaier – Town of Frisco Community Development Director
Brodie Boilard – Town of Frisco Executive Assistant
Summit Combined Housing Authority
The Summit Combined Housing Authority (SCHA) was formed in 2006 to serve all of the towns in Summit County and all areas of unincorporated Summit County to facilitate a long term housing solution. SCHA provides education, loan assistance and rental information and enables the sale of workforce housing.
- In November of 2006 the voters authorized a County-wide 0.125% sales tax and a development impact fee for affordable housing purposes. This was renewed by voters in 2015. In 2015, the Town of Frisco collected $186,000 as part of this tax, and in 2016, $204,393 was collected.
- A new construction fund (5A) was approved by Summit County voters in November of 2016, and Summit County projects that Frisco will collect $897,650 per year from this .6% tax. This tax ends in 10 years.
- It is also likely that the Town of Frisco will utilize its Capital Improvement Fund for workforce housing projects as needed to augment what is collected through dedicated sales tax sources.
- Frisco has 128 affordable housing units located in various developments around Frisco including Town Centre with 6 deed restricted units, Condos Off Main with 7 deed restricted units and Boulevard Bend with 8 deed restricted units, Peak One Neighborhood with 69 homes and other units spread throughout town. Many of these units were made available because of incentives in Frisco’s land use regulations.
- Peak One Neighborhood includes 69 homes, both single family and duplex. 61 of the units are restricted to families earning between 80-120% of the Area Median Income (AMI); 8 are market value; and all 69 of the homes are restricted to people in the local workforce. The Town of Frisco worked with Brynn Grey Partners to develop this twelve and a half acre town-owned parcel of land in the heart of Frisco. In 2016, Housing Colorado honored Frisco’s Peak One Neighborhood with the Eagle Award for its outstanding contribution to affordable housing in Colorado.
- Frisco’s land use regulations provide an incentive for the development of workforce housing units. The code allows for an unlimited number of additional “bonus” units within a development as long 50% of the additional bonus units are deed restricted. It works like this. Let’s say a property can build 10 residential units based on the density allowed for the zone district in which the property is located. The Town refers to these units as being allowed “outright”. The developer proposes 20 units instead of the 10 units allowed outright, for an additional 10 bonus units. This means that 50% of the bonus units (5 in this case) must be deed restricted for qualified employees who work at least 30 hours per week in Summit County.
- Frisco has very permissive code provisions that allow accessory dwelling units in almost all zone districts. Accessory rental units allow land owners to have an extra unit of density on a property, allowing for the infusion of additional workforce units within the town and providing a source of income to land owners. Accessory dwelling units must be deed restricted to workers in the county.
- Mary Ruth Place Project– In late 2016, Frisco Town Council decided to move ahead with this workforce housing project on Town owned land at 306 Galena Street. This project will include the construction of 8 units of workforce housing: one studio, five 1-bedroom units and two 2-bedroom units. Four of these units will be committed to Town of Frisco employees with the remaining 4 units going to employees working at other Frisco businesses. The already existing 2-bedroom unit in the historic Mary Ruth House on this property will also be improved with better insulation and with the installation of more energy efficient windows. Construction is projected to begin in summer 2018.
- Basecamp Project– In February 2017, Brynn Grey, the developer of the Whole Foods/Basecamp Development, proposed building 24 units of workforce housing requiring an amendment to the real covenant and agreement related to pad 5 at the Basecamp Development to allow residential units on the 2nd floor or above. Residential uses were not listed as prohibited in the original covenant agreement for the Basecamp Development, nor expressly noted as a permitted use, and hence, the owner of the property, Brynn Grey, had to ask the Town of Frisco for an amendment to pave the way for 24 units of workforce housing. Part of the agreement with the Town included the stipulation that employees in the Ten Mile Basin must be given preference for these rental units. Brynn Grey purchased the land for the Basecamp development from the Town of Frisco to develop retail spaces, which now house Whole Foods and the Rio Grande Restaurant, as well as other businesses. Construction timeline is targeted for 2018.
- Wendy’s/Exxon Project– 4 workforce units were approved through amendment of the Lakepoint at Frisco planned unit development (PUD) to permit residential uses above the existing Wendy’s Restaurant/Exxon gas station at 940 North Ten Mile Drive. Only commercial uses were permitted on this site until this amendment was approved by Town Council in March 2017. The owners of this property will be converting 2nd floor office space into workforce housing for their employees. Construction timeline TBD.
- Boatyard/Uptown Expansion Project– The Boatyard American Grill at 304 Main Street began a restaurant expansion in late 2016 and is incorporating 5 rental units into their project. One of these units will be deed restricted and construction completion is projected for early 2018.
- Lake Hill Project– The Lake Hill property, located along Dillon Dam Road in unincorporated Summit County and adjacent to the Town of Frisco, is a workforce housing project being spearheaded by Summit County. 436 housing units of a variety of types, including single family detached, duplexes, townhouses, and large multifamily buildings are contemplated. In 2000 the Town of Frisco identified this 44.81-acre parcel as a desirable location for affordable workforce housing. In 2011, Summit County took a lead on the acquisition of this property at the request of the Town of Frisco, and in 2016, Summit County purchased this land from the United States Forest Service.
In March 2017, Frisco Town Council discussed the Lake Hill Master Plan in a joint meeting with Summit County Commissioners. While there is much support for the plan, Frisco Town Council members noted unresolved concerns including but not limited to the following: traffic flow at Dillon Dam and Highway 9, the amount of proposed units and availability of water. There has been no request to annex this property into the Town of Frisco, but Summit County has involved Frisco in stakeholder planning throughout the process.
The Lake Hill Master Plan is intended to be a flexible guide, and there is a robust entitlement process still ahead before work can begin on building housing on this site, including the installing infrastructure. Construction would be in phases over a 15-20 year period of time, beginning in 3-5 years.
Goals of the Lake Hill Project include:
- Having mix of housing styles and types, with both rental and ownership opportunities.
- Provide housing choices affordable to a variety of income levels to encourage a healthy, diverse community and address the needs identified in the 2013 Summit County Workforce Housing Needs Assessment and the 2016 Summit County Workforce Housing Demand Update.
- Create opportunity for people to easily move within the neighborhood, to upsize or downsize their homes as life situations change.
- Architectural design and scale shall be compatible with the local aesthetic found in the Town of Frisco and surrounding areas, and follow the guidelines included herein for site and building character
- Respect and fit into the surrounding natural environment.
- Build sustainable, energy-efficient homes that will offer ongoing affordability, durability and low costs of ownership and operation.
The Summit Combined Housing Authority (SCHA) is an excellent resource for residents seeking affordable housing. SCHA’s homebuyer class is a great place to start- 970-423-7040.
The Family Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC) also offers rental readiness class for perspective renters, a rental housing program and foreclosure counseling– Michel Infante, 970-455-0232 or email Micheli@SummitFIRC.org.
The Town of Frisco Community Development Department is a great resource for helping property owners figure out how to be part of the housing solution through incentives offered in the town’s land use code. – Bill Gibson, 970-668-9121 or WilliamG@TownofFrisco.com.