Innovative housing project on Eagle’s Third Street a product of collaboration |

Innovative housing project on Eagle’s Third Street a product of collaboration

Habitat for Humanity made a recent site visit to Fading West, the modular home manufacturers for the Third St. project.
Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley / Courtesy Photo

Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley is piloting modular housing in a 16-unit Eagle housing development that, with collaboration from the Eagle County School District, the town of Eagle and Eagle County, will be hitting the ground later this year.

The Third St. Housing project was approved by Eagle town council on Nov. 8, 2022. Since, the town looked to receive additional project funding from local government grants established through the Department Of Local Affairs Innovative Affordable Housing Strategies House Bill 1271.

The House Bill established a pot of money for two types of grants, one that helped municipalities plan to incorporate more affordable housing options efficiently, and another that would cover infrastructure costs and impact fees.

Habitat for Humanity Director of Development Elyse Howard said that in late 2021, Eagle was among the first municipalities to receive the planning grant established through House Bill 1271. With that grant, Eagle Town Planner Peyton Heitzman said the town hired two consultants. The consultants, including the Denver-based company, Economic Planning Systems, worked to develop Eagle’s recently finalized housing assessment.

The updated site plan for Habitat for Humanity’s collaborative project in Eagle details how the 16 residences will fill the plot of land donated by the Eagle County School District.
Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley/Courtesy Image

(The housing assessment) really provides a lot of data on the housing needs within the community,” Heitzman said.

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Additionally, consultants are updating Eagle’s land-use code and are strategizing to make the code more affordable-housing-friendly.

“Since we’ve been going through this whole housing assessment, we really have data to show the need that we’re all feeling in the community,” Heitzman said. “That the supply just can’t keep up with the demand.”

On top of the planning grant, this March, the town was awarded $1.1 million through the Innovative Housing Opportunities Incentive Grant for infrastructure costs and impact fees of the Third St. housing project.

Heitzman said the community met a certain number of qualifying strategies within House Bill 1271 that qualified the municipality to apply for both sets of incentive funds.

“The timing of everything really did work out from getting this data, seeing the numbers, seeing that we have a housing affordability gap of over half a million,” Heitzman said.

“It’s really exciting to see the money coming to Eagle County. Whether it comes to Habitat or not, just getting it into the community I think is just a really beneficial thing for the entire community,” Howard said.

Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley project leaders visited the Buena Vista modular home contractor Fading West’s site for insight on the build process and the products the manufacturer offers.
Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley/Courtesy Photo

Howard said because Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization, having strong partnerships like with the town of Eagle made a world of difference in securing funding for its affordable housing projects.

“In this case, this particular bucket of funding has to be awarded to a local government,” Howard said. “It’s a really good example of partnership and collaboration. I think that’s how stuff is getting done.”

Howard explained that with the funding only available to local governments, there is incentive for collaboration between municipalities and developers, which can help communities better address housing challenges.

In many ways, the Third St. project looks a lot like other Habitat for Humanity housing initiatives in the valley. Per the nonprofit’s usual practice, aspiring local homeowners work through a homeowner education curriculum and complete equity hours either on the construction site or in the Gypsum Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

Though unlike former projects, in the valley, the Third St. housing project is bringing even more innovation to the table in order to address the need for affordable homeownership opportunities locally.

This development project, in agreement with the Eagle County School District will reserve 12 of its 16 units for school district employees, including teachers.

Howard said the school district donated the land to Habitat for Humanity for potential educator housing.

“When you’re trying to build housing that’s affordable to our workforce, typically it costs more to build housing than what you can sell it for,” Howard said. “Habitat is a nonprofit, so that is our mission. But, when we have a donation of land like the school district did, that goes a long way to supporting the outcome of affordable home ownership.”

Additionally, Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley’s Director of Special Projects Emily Peyton said the income requirements to qualify for this Eagle deed-restricted housing will change compared to past projects. Typically, the nonprofit serves families earning between 35 and 80% of Area Median Income. However, in this Habitat for Humanity development, the nonprofit is piloting going up to 100% Area Median Income on twelve of the sixteen units, which will be spoken for by school district employees.

Peyton said going up to the 100% Area Median Income will allow more educators to qualify for home ownership they still might not be able to otherwise afford.

“It’s gotten really expensive to own in Eagle—it’s a highly desirable community,” Peyton said. “We’re seeing people in our critical workforce, whether it’s teachers or police officers, healthcare workers, Eagle County workers— they’re making a decent wage, but it’s still not enough to purchase a home.”

Excited to bring this homeownership opportunity to local educators, Peyton said Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley is also excited to do so at a quicker pace than normal. The Third St. project will also pilot modular home construction for the nonprofit.

Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley is enlisting modular home manufacturer Fading West for the builds.

The Fading West modular home manufacturer factory is pictured above. Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley is embarking on its first modular home build project on Eagle’s Third St.
Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley/Courtesy Photo

“It’s really going to accelerate the speed of construction because the site work will run simultaneous to the homes being built in the factory,” Peyton said.

Peyton said boxes will start arriving on-site in the third quarter of 2023.

Now, project coordinators are through the entitlement phase and are preparing to submit building permits.

“We will get started on the infrastructure once the grant is under contract and as soon as the weather allows,” Peyton said.

The application cycle is closed for aspiring homeowners of the Third St. project. Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley received almost 100 applications for the 16 units.

“That’s a very competitive process,” Peyton said. “With the recent housing crisis that we’re experiencing, we’ve seen an increase in demand for our product. I think that this project is a response to that. Historically, we’ve been building at a pace of about six to eight homes a year. In 2023, with this project we’ll be breaking ground on 24 homes. So, we’re kind of tripling the production this year to help meet the demands and needs of our community.”

Third St. project leaders credit the collaboration of many to help make these homes available to educators and others seeking affordable housing within the community. With the town of Eagle, Eagle County and the school district’s collaboration with Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley, Howard said things were really able to get off the ground.

Eagle Town Manager Larry Pardee said the fact that the town received the funding for this project is a celebration of the collaboration of involved partners.

“It’s a small piece of a large complex puzzle in terms of affordable housing for the greater valley, but it’s something to be celebrated,” Pardee said.

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