Eagle and Gypsum can’t offer much in the way of rental cost relief in Eagle County
EAGLE AND GYPSUM — As the temperatures dip and the aspens change color, Eagle County girds itself for the upcoming ski season and the annual influx of seasonal workers. And each of those newcomers will face the central dilemma that thousands of workers have dealt with in seasons past — where am I going to live?
Eagle County’s housing shortage has been well documented, and the problem is not restricted to the eastern end of the valley. Renters hoping to finding more affordable units in the downvalley communities of Eagle and Gypsum are going to be disappointed. Not only have prices risen substantially, available units are basically nonexistent.
Rents are, inarguably, lower in the Eagle and Gypsum area. But for people arriving in the valley from other areas of the country, even downvalley prices will likely induce sticker shock.
A quick check of rental prices on the website rentometer.com shows that the average monthly rental for a three-bedroom unit in Vail is $2,735 and that 80 percent of the three-bedroom units in the town rent for between $2,100 and $3,200 per month. In the Eagle/Gypsum area, the average monthly rental of a three-bedroom unit drops to $2,149 and 80 percent of the downvalley three-bedroom units have monthly rental prices ranging from $1,595 to $2,900.
With the largest share of households in Gypsum, for example, showing an annual income level in the $75,000 to $100,000 range (datausa.lo) those rental prices kick up against what affordability calculators recommend — 33 percent of gross income. Eagle County’s Housing Strategic Plan confirms that issue, noting that 46 percent of local renters pay too much of their monthly income toward rent.
But for many people looking for rental housing, availability, not affordability, is the main problem they are facing.
“It may not be a question of price. It may be a question of not being able to find anything,” said Gypsum Economic Development Director Jeremy Reitmann.
A quick survey of the Vail Daily classifieds recently details the issue. There were six rentals listed for Eagle and two rentals listed in Gypsum. Craigslist produced similar results, with two Eagle units listed. Prices for all of the rentals hovered near the $2,000 per month mark.
The September Eagle County Rental Market Survey prepared by Polar Star Properties shows an average rental occupancy rate of 98.4 percent for the 1,447 units in Buffalo Ridge, Buffalo Ridge II, EagleBend Apartments, Eagle Villas, Kayak Crossing, Lake Creek Village, Middle Creek, Timber Ridge Apartments, River Run Apartments and Lions Ridge.
Even units that haven’t yet been built are generating interest.
According to Stephanie Roybal, of the Gypsum Building Department, the Red Table Apartments project is currently expanding, with 33 units in building B and 25 units in building C now under construction. There is already a list of prospective tennants for thos units.
Spring Creek Village
There is a large rental project on the horizon for the Gypsum community. Earlier this year, the Gypsum Town Council approved plans for Spring Creek Village, which will be located along U.S. Highway 6 on the eastern side of town. The plan includes 282 apartments in 12 condo buildings, 76 townhomes in 19 four-plex units and 15 single-family homes.
But that’s just one project, and vertical construction at the site isn’t expected to launch until the summer of 2018. What’s more, the total density at Spring Creek Village doesn’t meet even 10 percent of the anticipated need countywide. A study by Eagle County estimates there is a need for an additional 4,466 housing units for current demand, and a total need of 11,960 by 2025, to house the local workforce.
“Eagle County has a significant housing problem,” notes the county’s housing strategic plan. “Shelter is a basic need. The success of families, children in school and employees is greatly improved when they have a safe, warm place to call home.”
Winter is coming, and there aren’t many vacant “safe, warm places” to rent. And the ones that are available won’t be cheap.