Eagle County plans 22-unit workforce housing project at Eagle Ranch | VailDaily.com

Eagle County plans 22-unit workforce housing project at Eagle Ranch

The Eagle Ranch Apartments is a 22-unit complex proposed east of the Castle Peak Senior Living Community, as outlined above. Initially the complex would operate as workforce housing but it will eventually transition into independent senior living.

EAGLE — Construction is slated to begin next year on 22 workforce housing units at a vacant area just east of the Castle Peak Senior Care Community in the Eagle Ranch neighborhood.

On Tuesday, Aug. 7, the Eagle County Commissioners approved an agreement for preconstruction services and construction services for the $6.5 million project, which is proposed as a joint effort between Eagle County and the Eagle County Housing and Development Authority.

While the units are initially proposed as workforce housing, the project will eventually be converted into independent living units that will operate in conjunction with the Castle Peak Senior Care Community.

"We are just at the beginning of this process," said Eagle County Housing Director Kim Williams during Tuesday's hearing. She noted the county has submitted an application with the town of Eagle for a minor development permit, and public hearings before the town will be scheduled following a staff review of the application.

Williams said the proposed schedule calls for construction to begin in March 2019, with completion in May 2020. The $6.5 million estimated cost reflects a $279-per-square-foot price. The county owns the property where the apartments are planned and will use certificates of participation to finance the deal. A certificate of participation is a tax-exempt lease-financing agreement that is sold to investors as securities resembling bonds.

"It will be the county's credit that is put on the table to finance this project," Williams said.

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Unique design

"Because this building will serve two purposes, it is designed in a unique way," Williams said. "It is designed to be converted, in seven to 15 years, into independent living. This is the next piece of Castle Peak's continuum of care."

Because of its future use, Williams said the majority of the apartments will be one-plus-bedroom units. The plus room represents extra space for tenants to use for hobbies or storage.

"Seniors like the extra room option," she explained.

But for now, the plus room will no doubt be a perk for working adults in Eagle County.

Workforce need

Williams said the need for employee housing has been well documented throughout Eagle County. This new apartment complex will be owned by Eagle County and managed by the Eagle County Housing Authority.

"We will only have 22 units. I have a feeling they will go pretty fast," she said.

Williams noted that officials with Augustana Care, the management company for Castle Peak Senior Community, have said finding workforce housing is one of their top challenges for the Eagle senior living complex. For that reason, Williams noted Castle Peak has already expressed interest in renting units at the new complex. Other potential master lease entities include Eagle County and Eagle County Schools.

As for rental prices at the apartments, Williams said it is too soon to know what the pricing will be.

"In this booming economy, it is very difficult to build affordable housing and one of the reasons that makes this project possible for the county is that we already own the land," Commissioner Jill Ryan said.

Ryan asked Williams what would trigger a conversion to senior living after the estimated seven- to 15-year period. Williams responded the county's research has indicated there will be a large increase in local retirees in the next decade. When that happens, the demand for independent senior living will increase.

"This is an important part of the puzzle, and Augustana wants to offer it to the public. When Augustana is ready and they have the funds to buy the complex, that will trigger the change," Williams said.

By the numbers

Eagle Ranch Apartments

22: Total apartments.

4: One-bedrooms units.

16: One-plus-bedroom units.

2: Two-bedroom units.