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Eagle County eyes May start for Two10 at Castle Peak workforce housing project

EAGLE — Eagle County plans to break ground on its latest housing project — Two10 at Castle Peak — this spring. This week county officials discussed how they will pay for the project.

Two10 at Castle Peak is a $9 million joint project of Eagle County and Cassia, formerly known as Augustana Care. Two10 will be located at the corner of Sylvan Lake Road and Eagle Ranch Road, just east of Castle Peak Senior Life and Rehabilitation. Initially, the 22-unit project will function as workforce housing with plans to eventually transition the apartments into independent senior housing. When that transition happens, Cassia will have first right of refusal to purchase the project.

Eagle County will provide the land for Two10 as well as financing the construction. Tuesday, the county commissioners looked at the various options available for them to pay for the project.

“I will say that while we think this is a good project … it is not a financial win for the county,” said Eagle County Finance Director Jill Klosterman.

Two10 will not generate dollars for Eagle County, but it will partially address one of its major goals by bringing new workforce housing units to the area. Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney noted that the costs of Two10 illustrate how difficult it is to build affordable housing in the county.

“This is 22 units are we are losing money on them. But this is our investment in the community,” McQueeney said.

While they are committed to bringing the project out of the ground this year, the commissioners also indicated they wanted to make the best financial deal to do it. Tuesday they looked at three scenarios for financing Two10 construction.

Cash

Eagle County could pay cash for the Two10 project. Klosterman said the county contemplates that it will have $24.6 million in reserves at the end of 2019. However, the county has also identified $23 million of strategic priority projects. That means if it spends nearly half of its reserves on Two10, there won’t be money for other projects.

“That’s a pretty big con, because you are limiting yourself on what you are doing in the future,” said Klosterman.

The other big con is the nature of the Two10 project. Because it is an actual bricks and mortar effort, there are other financing options available to make it happen. Other county priorities cannot be financed and require cash payment.

Bank Financing

The second alternative for Two10 financing is a bank loan.

“The pro is it is tied directly to the project,” said Klosterman. She added that this alternative might even involve a local lender.

“Unfortunately, it does have the highest cost of capital,” she continued.

A bank loan could also include other stipulations including control of how much rent is charged to tenants or project changes. Additionally, Klosterman said a bank would likely limit the amount it lends on the project to around $3 million. That would mean the county would still have to pay a substantial sum from its cash reserves.

Certificates of Participation

Certificates of Participation are tax-exempt lease-financing agreements that are sold to investors as securities resembling bonds. Colorado courts have approved use of COPs and ruled they are exempt from the regulations of Colorado’s TABOR Amendment. The county has used certificates of participation to finance construction of the justice center addition and the maintenance service center in Gypsum.

“From a staff perspective, we believe certificates of participation are the way to go with this project,” said Klosterman. “We are in a market today where interest rates are low and I don’t see them going down. This is a good time to finance projects.”

She added it is a doubly good time to look at certificates of participation for Two10 because the county just made its final payment on the maintenance service center in Gypsum. That means the county isn’t carrying much debt, Klosterman said. She added that spending down the cash reserves would actually have a bigger impact on the county’s credit rating than issuing certificates of participation for Two10.

Given the three alternatives, the commissioners agreed that certificates of participation is the preferred Two10 financing option.

“I am very comfortable with COPs and we are legally allowed to use them,” said McQueeney. “This would be the most fiscally responsible choice for us.”

Commissioner Matt Scherr asked if issuing certificates of participation would hold up the project. Tori Franks from the county’s housing department said it may be a stretch to plan a May 1 ground-breaking, but the project is still on track to break ground sometime that month.

Franks noted the Two10 architects are meeting with the Eagle Ranch Design Review Board this week and the team hopes to have a building permit in hand by April. Franks added that one year after construction starts, the project should be ready for tenants.

“I am a little concerned you are going to start getting phone calls (from prospective tenants) now,” said McQueeney.

“We will start a list,” Franks responded.

Obituary: Judith Seabry Troxel, Sep. 17, 1942 – Mar. 8, 2019

Judith S. Troxel passed peacefully from this life on March 8, 2019, at HopeWest Hospice Care Center in Grand Junction, Colorado, at the age of 76. Judy was born on September 17, 1942, to James and Papee (Pat) Kalanj Seabry in Salida, Colorado, and began her life in Idaho Springs where her father was a state patrolman. At the age of 6, the family moved to Eagle where Judy attended school, graduating in 1960 from Eagle Valley High School. She attended Central Business College and returned to Eagle County to become one of the first employees of Vail Associates. She married W. Keith Troxel in 1964 and started a family of her own. She was a dedicated wife and wonderful stay-at-home mother to her son, Kyle, and daughter, Tanya, for many years before going to work as an administrative assistant for Slifer, Smith and Frampton Real Estate where she enjoyed a 20-year career. She retired in 2010 just prior to moving to Grand Junction.

Judy was well-liked and had many close friends. She enjoyed long walks in the summer with her good friend Karin Scheidigger and she traveled every few years with a group of lifelong friends. She was very fond of children, especially babies, and loved playing cards and just spending time with grandsons Nico and Tristan.

To her family she was Mom, Grandma, Sister and Aunt and to know her was to love her. She loved each and every one of us as completely and unconditionally as we loved her. We will remember her genuine and generous nature, her ability to speak her mind but always be respectful of what others had to say, and her courage as she battled a multitude of health issues over the past several years.  

Judy is survived by son Kyle (Liz) Troxel of Grand Junction, daughter Tanya Troxel of Lakewood, grandsons Nico (Haley) Troxel of Glenwood Springs and Tristan Edwards, U.S. Navy, Lemoore, California, sister Jean (Walt) Bhagatram, niece Katia (Grant) Bhagatram-Jackson, nephews Alexander and Nicholas Bhagatram, and great-nephews Nicholas, Milo and Emry, as well as many close relatives throughout Colorado. Her parents preceded her in death.

Please join us in celebrating Judy’s life on Sunday, May 5 from 2-4 p.m. at 101 Fawcett Road, Unit 140, in Avon to share memories and stories. 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to HopeWest Hospice in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Vail Christian students gain money, experience at Entrepreneur Day

EDWARDS — The business world is full of lessons, a group of local elementary school students learned.

Vail Christian Academy’s annual Entrepreneur Day taught students the basics of the free enterprise system, including some business acumen. Among the lessons:

Logistics matter: Keep the dog petting and hugging stations away from the chicks and duckling petting zoo.

Volume matters: You don’t need to sell one thing for a bunch of money. It’s more practical to sell a bunch of things for a little money.

Energy matters: Golf balls have a mind of their own when they’re whacked at an indoor driving range.

Prizes matter: A stomp-on-the-balloons booth offered stuffed animals. Break the balloon. Win a prize.

Joyful noise of barter, banter

Amid the joyful noise of children bartering and bantering, a middle-school duo mixed trendy music and conducted live broadcast interviews, and more than 200 customers strolled the shopping mall in the Vail Christian Academy auditorium.

To participate, Vail Christian students submitted a business plan, created their store, opened for business and tracked their sales.

Three sixth-grade girls were the top sellers — Lily Greshko, Alden Wyatt and Brodie Smith. Their team netted $185 selling snow cones for $1 each. Second-grader Jay Holton set-up a small arcade with Galaga and PacMan, and sold more than 300 game plays.

Students opened three dozen storefronts, featuring entrepreneurial ideas with 57 students ranging from kindergarten through eighth-graders selling items and services they dreamed up.

Homemade snowglobes, hand-sewn swag bags and items crafted out of paracord sold swiftly. The students set up a food court that featured five types of hot foods, as well as a chocolate cake bakery, hot chocolate extravaganza and make-your-own candied apples. One student created $2 mystery bags, filled with surprise items and labeled according to age range. A kindergartner sold wood-burned crafts, a first grader made scripture rocks, and twin fourth graders gave golf lessons – their dad is a local golf pro. Spin To Win activities were also popular.

A pair of fourth-graders ran a Beauty Dry Bar. Two sixth-graders operated a Hairport. Both salons had a constant long line of teenage boys getting their hair and nails done.

Vail Valley construction season will be a busy one

EAGLE COUNTY — There used to be two seasons in Eagle County: winter and construction.

That old saw isn’t really true any more — building through the winter requires only the sufficient application of money. Still, spring is when projects tend to get started, or begun in earnest.

Make no mistake, this story is going to miss something, perhaps a few somethings. But here’s a look at, with luck, most of the projects that are either under construction, or relatively far along in their reviews by local governments.

Eagle County

According to county engineer Ben Gerdes, here’s what’s either under construction or ready to roll in unincorporated Eagle County. All of these are in Edwards.

• 6 West: This project has 120 apartment units. The town of Vail has purchased a number of deed restrictions at the site, and Eagle County helped the developers (with water rights)

• Stillwater: This development will create 21 affordable housing units for Eagle River Water & Sanitation District employees.

• Fox Hollow: This project of 87 units has been approved, but construction hasn’t begun.

• Most Edwards residents have already noticed construction of the roundabout at the intersection of U.S. Highway 6 and the Edwards Interstate 70 spur road. The roundabout is a joint project between Eagle County, the Edwards Metropolitan District and the Colorado Department of Transportation. The project will take much of the year, although the roundabout is expected to be functionally complete in the coming weeks.

Avon

There’s a lot going on in Avon, particularly in the realm of public projects. Interim Town Manager Preston Neill sent a fairly extensive list topped by one substantial private project.

• Colorado World Resorts: The project, just east of the Ascent condos, is an 81-unit condo project.

Public projects include:

• Road work: This year’s work includes street resurfacing and maintenance.

• A potential project is the construction of on-street parking along West Benchmark Road from Avon Station to Mikaela Way.

• A trail will be built from Riverfront Lane to the Eagle Valley Trail near Lake Street.

• The town will install concrete sidewalk on West Beaver Creek Road across the railroad right of way.

• Beaver Creek Boulevard streetscape improvement work will resume on April 15. The project will at times require temporary lane closures or one-way traffic.

• Avon Whitewater Park repair project: The park is now under renovation. Work includes maintenance to three whitewater features near the Avon Road bridge. The features need to be updated to make them more effective for kayakers and other boaters. The work includes relocating and resetting about 550 tons of boulders in the channel. The project is expected to be finished by the end of March.

• Nottingham Road debris flow study and implementation: After large rain storms, the runoff moves large amounts of mud and debris onto Nottingham Road, overwhelming the ditches and closing the road. The project has included a study analyzing the drainage and proposing remediation options. Work will be done this year, which will reduce the amount of sediment on the road.

Eagle

In the public sphere, the town has a handful of active and continuing projects. Eagle Town Manager Brandy Reitter sent a list:

• A new water treatment plant — scheduled to go online in September of 2020 — will expand the town’s potable water supply by 2.5 million gallons per day in the first phase. Future expansion could add another 2.5 million gallons per day to the capacity. The town’s current capacity is 4.3 million gallons per day.

• The Eagle River Park, funded by a voter-approved sales tax, has a scheduled grand opening of May 24. In-stream work is complete on the park, with “upland park” construction going on now.

• The town is working on plans to redevelop the Grand Avenue corridor, with economic development in mind. The plan has been made more feasible by the U.S. Highway “devolution,” which passed responsibility for the highway from the Colorado Department of Transportation to the towns of Eagle and Gypsum.

In the private realm, there are three big projects currently being evaluated.

• The Reserve at Hockett Gulch is proposed for 30 acres roughly on the southwest side of the Brush Creek Road roundabout on the west end of town. The proposal is for 500 residential units and up to 30,000 square feet of commercial space. At the project’s most recent town hearing before the Eagle Town Board, developers asked the town to waive $3 million in water fees. The town board is still reviewing the request.

• While first approved in 2014, the Haymeadow subdivision is under review by the Eagle Planning and Zoning Commission. The project as proposed — roughly near the Eagle Pool and Ice Rink — would bring up to 837 dwelling units, a school parcel and a fire station parcel.

• The Red Mountain Ranch project is roughly along the Eagle River on the east side of town. Developers are asking to annex 130 acres into town. The proposal calls for 153 residential units and some commercial uses.That proposal is being reviewed by the Eagle Planning and Zoning Commission.

Gypsum

There’s a lot going on in Gypsum, both in the private and public sectors. Here’s a look at part of the list sent by town manager Jeremy Rietmann:

• The most notable public project is the Cooley Mesa Road roundabout. That work has begun in earnest, and people who use the road can expect some delays and detours.

• Improvements to the “broken bridge” adjacent to the Rittenhouse building. Work may include cosmetic work, picnic tables, a fence, grading the parking area and acquisition of an easement for boat ramp parking.

• The town is working on redevelopment and site design for the property at the Interstate 70 interchange. The town recently purchased the Gypsum Grill property and is working with the owner of both the Shell station and an adjacent land owner on planning for the property.

• The town this year will install a small hydroelectric plant capable of powering about 100 homes. The town will sell the power produced to Holy Cross Energy.

• The town is working with the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service to provide additional camping options west of Gypsum along the Eagle River, and at the town-owned LEDE Reservoir.

Private development projects include:

• Improvements at the River Dance RV Resort.

• Residential projects at Mountain Gateway and Siena Lake.

The town is working with land owner Scott Green on an annexation plan for his property at the base of Cottonwood Pass. The proposal is to split the 36-acre parcel into 10 residential lots.

• The town is also working on a proposal by Eagle County Schools and Habitat for Humanity for 12 units in six buildings. The project is near Red Hill Elementary School.

Vail

At this point, the major private projects are both under construction: the Solar Vail apartments and the Mountain View Residences, which will combine both condos and free-market rental units to a site just east of the Vail Village parking structure.

There’s a long list of public projects, including:

• Interstate 70 Exit 180 landscape completion.

• Bridge Road bridge replacement.

• Bridge Road boat launch.

• Roundabout lighting replacement in West Vail.

• Stephens Park safety improvements.

• Slifer Fountain replacement in Vail Village.

• Lionshead lower stair replacement near Moe’s Bar B Que.

• Vail Transit Center bus ramp replacement.

• Gore Valley Trail bridge repairs near the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District offices.

• Building a shelter at Ford Park.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com or 970-748-2930.

Neuswanger: Fed actions signal steady mortgage rates for 2019 (column)

While the Federal Reserve does not set mortgage rates, its actions have a heavy impact on the direction rates will take, and this week there was some good news for homeowners that the media pretty well missed.

Mortgage money is raised by the sale of bonds to investors. These bonds are generally guaranteed by the federal government and carry virtually no chance of default. The money from the sale of these bonds is used to fund mortgages and they are paid back as the mortgage loans are paid back.

The recent announcements from the Federal Reserve signal good news for homeowners.
ColNeuswanger-VDN-032319

During the past financial crisis, starting about 2010, the Fed was faced with a difficult decision: how to pump cash into the economy without triggering runaway inflation. While the Fed could have pumped cash in by literally printing money and handing it out via fat tax refund bonuses (or dropping it from helicopters!) they very sagely chose another path — to invest in mortgage bonds. 

Between 2009 and March 2018 the Fed pumped about $1.8 trillion dollars into mortgage-backed securities, which is an enormous sum, even for the U.S. economy. That’s equal to about 6 million $300,000 home loans. And as any homeowner knows, when you buy a house you need stuff.

This provided cheap gas to fuel the housing recovery, and in addition to stimulating sales, allowed consumers to save billions of dollars on interest via lowering mortgage rates. This method also assured the Fed that it would be able to eventually reduce the money supply by slowly withdrawing its support from the mortgage bonds.

Had the Fed chosen the “helicopter” approach of handouts, the money would have gone out the door and not come back and quite likely triggered inflation, which would have been ruinous to an economic recovery. 

Starting a year ago, the Fed started to gradually withdraw from the bonds.  As consumers paid back their loans, the Fed kept the money, shaved a few hundred billion off the national debt and let the free markets make up the difference. The result was less demand and these bonds were forced to offer a higher rate. That pushed mortgages up about 1 percent. In addition, the Fed began a series of rate hikes on short-term money which also tamped down the economic growth to keep inflation in check.

However, as the housing market has shown signs of stress in recent months, and job growth has hit a plateau and trade issues with China and other countries grow, and the U.S. Trade deficit has expanded, Fed quite publicly announced this week that it is likely done raising short term rates for this year.

What the mainstream media missed though was the second part of the policy statement, and that was the Fed would also slow its withdrawal from the mortgage-backed bond market, meaning that the supply of mortgage money should trend to increase over last year’s numbers. That is outstanding news for homeowners and should herald stable-to-slightly declining mortgage rates for the rest of the year.

Chris Neuswanger is a mortgage loan originator with Macro Financial Group in Avon and may be reached at 970-748-0342.  He welcomes mortgage related inquiries from readers.  His web and blog is www.mtnmortgageguy.com