May 08, 2022

U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse visits planned Breckenridge housing site

U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse stopped by Breckenridge Friday, May 6, to visit a planned workforce housing site along with Summit County and Breckenridge officials. The “Justice Center parcel project,” as town officials have unofficially dubbed it, will provide the town with 52 workforce housing units.

“It’s exciting,” Neguse said. “Kudos to the county leadership, (town) leadership and local community that has the foresight to address this acute housing affordability crisis.”

The units will be priced at 80% of the area median income and below, and five units each will go to the town of Breckenridge and the county for their staff. The project will have studios in addition to one-bedroom and two-bedroom options.

Town officials put the price of a two-bedroom unit around $1,600.

“So that is way below now where things are going for $1,500 a bedroom,” Summit County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said.

The development will sit on the 1.5-acre plot north of the Justice Center in Breckenridge. Construction is set to begin at the end of July, and the units should be ready for leasing by the end of 2023, construction manager Melanie Leas said.

The quick turnaround comes from the use of modular homes built at a factory and delivered to the site. The homes for the Justice Center project will come from the Fading West factory in Buena Vista.

A date to open applications has not been set, said Summit County Manager Scott Vargo, adding that the time likely won’t come until the fall at the earliest. Lawrence said applicants will probably be put to a lottery.

Local officials stressed to Neguse the housing issue the town and county faces. Vargo said the county is short 75 positions. Breckenridge Public Works Director Shannon Smith couldn’t provide an exact number, but said the town is short as well.

“It’s beyond a crisis,” Lawrence said. “We need law enforcement officers. We need bus drivers. We need plow drivers. We need child care workers.”

County officials estimated the project would cost upwards of $15 million, possibly $17 million, split evenly between the town and county.

“This is changing the identity of your community,” Neguse said. “We’ll see if the feds can do our part. … I think we’re interested to find ways we can support projects like this. We’ve had some level of success securing dollar and investments federally for Summit County projects.”

He cited the $500,000 in federal aid given for the new Summit County Rescue Group facility in Frisco as an example.

The Summit County Sheriff’s Office owned the proposed project’s lot and for a time had plans to expand the Justice Center onto it. But, Lawrence said, in conversations with Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons and the county, it was decided that the Sheriff’s Office would likely be better off developing in another location.

“What does the Sheriff’s Office need in the next 20 years?” she said to the county and town officials gathered Friday. “Does it make more sense to have a centrally located Sheriff’s Office in Frisco?”

The entire workforce housing structure will have near net-zero carbon emissions with solar units installed, Leas said.

“We won’t get exactly to net-zero, but we are going to do everything that we can to get as close as possible,” she said.

It will have about 70 parking spots, and Lawrence emphasized the lot is next to a bus stop, as well as the Breckenridge Recreation Center and City Market grocery store.

The modular units are just one of multiple housing projects planned for the Breckenridge area. Others include the Alta Verde project and student housing for Colorado Mountain College.

By:  Luke Vidic
Source: Summit Daily