Avon Town Council to review concept plans for new community housing project
The Swift Gulch housing development could bring over 40 new apartment rental units to the town
At its Tuesday meeting, the Avon Town Council will take its first look at a conceptual design for a new community housing development. Though in its preliminary stages, the development, Swift Gulch, could bring over 40 new apartment rental units to the town.
The Swift Gulch plot — located north of I-70 on an approximately 2-acre building site on town-owned land — has been contemplated by the town for housing since 2015. It was then identified as a priority in the town’s 2021 Community Housing Plan.
“Development of housing on the Swift Gulch property is the best opportunity to build new housing product on Town owned land. The Town of Avon Properties Plan identified development of Swift Gulch as a priority and it continues to be viewed as a prime property for new housing development,” reads the recently-adopted Community Housing Plan.
The plan also contemplates that the preliminary site and design analysis will take place in 2021 and 2022, including financial analysis and exploration of private and public partnerships. It has been identified that this property would be used for community rental housing for Eagle County employees.
Then, in October 2021, the town made its first step in the design process by approving a $151,000 agreement with design firm 2575 Design Co. to begin planning for the property.
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Since October, a stakeholder team — comprised of 2575 Design Co, Stan Clauson Associates and JVA Consulting Engineers design professionals; council members; staff from Avon as well as from Vail and Eagle County — has met multiple times to identify project goals and provide input on preliminary site designs. On Tuesday, the Town Council will review the concept plan that was built as a result of this process and provide feedback and confirmation of next steps.
The concept plan, as included in the meeting’s packet, identifies two site designs that emerged through this design charette process. One site design was recommended through this process and includes three buildings that would provide 42 apartment units. Under this option as well, a fourth building would be contemplated during future financial and cost analysis of the project.
The preliminary building layout for this design option considers a mix of one-bedroom, two-bedroom and studio units. The option also outlines that each unit will have in-unit washers and dryers, covered outdoor patios and more.
This site design also meets all seven goals for the project as defined by the group of stakeholders. These goals include providing efficient building and unit layouts while maximizing the site and unit count; having storage space, decks, views and common areas for residents as well as environmental goals around all-electric, passive solar design, electric vehicles and xeriscaping; minimizing operations and maintenance needs and more.
In his recommendation in the packet, Town Manager Eric Heil writes that this option “achieves the highest density which is likely to be the most cost effective per square foot.”
Heil’s recommendation continues that there are a “long list of design details yet to be fully addressed and determined” and that “design, cost modeling and financial planning would occur concurrently as this project moves forward.”
The plan outlines the next steps for town staff around project funding, stating that staff will develop a project pro-forma of project costs and projected revenues. Project costs will be established as the town hires a general contractor and establishes cost estimates for construction and financing; projected maintanence and operations costs; and the establishment of a reserve and replacement fund.
Revenues from the project, according to Planning Director Matt Pielsticker’s report in the packet, will be based on “rents which are affordable in relationship to the salaries of employees we expect will apply for housing in this project” as well as projected occupancy rates.
Heil wrote in his recommendation that this planning will help ensure that the project financially breaks-even in the “near term.”
As identified in the community housing plan, Avon will also look for private and public partnerships to help finance this project. Previously, Heil said that the town was intending to explore partnerships with Eagle County and the town of Vail for this purpose.
Moving forward, the immediate next steps for the project include further design and planning including schematic designs and design development as well as hiring a general contractor for pre-construction consultation, soil sampling and more. The town’s plan considers construction beginning sometime in 2023 or 2024.
The regular Avon Town Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 22 at 5 a.m. both online via Zoom and in person at Avon Town Hall (100 Mikaela Way). The Swift Gulch concept plan is scheduled for discussion at 5:40 p.m. Register via Zoom for the meeting at Avon.org.