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Minturn: Employee housing should double

Steve Lynn
Vail, CO Colorado

MINTURN ” Raj Manickam of SteamMaster provides more than 31 percent of his employees with affordable housing, he said.

SteamMaster has 35 employees and 11 bedrooms in Eagle and Summit counties, said Manickam, chief executive officer for SteamMaster.

So Manickam thinks the Ginn Development Co.’s pledge to provide housing for 40 percent of its workers “is a damn good start,” he said.

The town of Minturn disagrees. Ginn should double employee housing to 80 percent of its full-time equivalent employees within its property and in Eagle County, Minturn

Planner Chris Cerimele told town councilors Monday night.

Full-time equivalents refers to the sum of part-time employees that equal full-time employees.

Cerimele wants to establish a precedent in Eagle County so that Ginn’s workers have housing close to where they work, he said.

“We do not agree to double this requirement to 80 percent based up Mr. Cerimele’s recommendation,” Ginn Senior Vice President Bill Weber said in a Nov. 15 letter to town councilors.

Along with a private ski resort and golf course, Ginn wants to build 1,700 homes and condominiums on and around Battle Mountain, south of Minturn. Employee housing is not included in that figure, but Ginn wants to build 130 to 170 units for employees, Ginn Planner Dominic Mauriello has said.

No one in Eagle County houses 80 percent of employees, but Ginn will review the town’s request, Weber said.

The town of Vail want 30 percent of the people who work in town to live there. Avon is working on a policy that would require developers to provide affordable housing based on how many employees a project will generate.

“We’ve offered what we thought was a very fair and precedent-setting offer,” Weber said in an interview.

Pete Vance, of Minturn, said that Ginn should provide housing for 80 percent of its employees. That would help preserve Minturn’s middle class, he said.

“I think it makes for a tighter knit community,” he said.

Ginn could provide additional housing by passing on the cost to the people who buy multi-million dollar homes on Battle Mountain, Vance said.

At Monday’s meeting, some town councilors said Ginn should provide more employee housing. Mayor Gordon “Hawkeye” Flaherty said Ginn should provide 100 percent of its employees with housing.

Ginn expects 776 full-time employees when the resort is built and running, said Cliff Thompson, Ginn’s director of communications. Ginn will house 40 percent regardless of how many employees it ultimately hires, he said.

However, based on information in Ginn’s application, Eagle County has estimated 3,509 new employees as a result of the development. The county’s number includes those employed throughout the Vail Valley in construction, retail and service as a result of the development.

Ginn has disputed that number, saying that a community the size of Vail would not be needed to serve a 1,700-unit development.

And if businesses expand to serve people from Ginn’s proposed development, Ginn should not be required to “subsidize” those businesses, Weber wrote.

Most of Ginn’s employees would come from people already living in Eagle County, so Ginn should not be required to build more employee housing, Weber said in the letter.

In that case, Vance said, Ginn would pull away people from existing jobs in an economy that already has a low supply of workers.

“It pressures the whole system that’s ready to go crazy right now,” Vance said.

Half of the 40 percent of workers would live in employee housing on Ginn’s property, in Minturn and in Red Cliff, Weber said in the letter. The other half would live in employee housing in Eagle and Lake counties, Weber wrote.

However, Ginn could provide more employee housing because of the way its property would be zoned, according to the letter.

SteamMaster does not have that opportunity, at least in Eagle, where Manickam wants to expand its business. SteamMaster faces building regulations in Eagle that, so far, have prevented him from building employee housing there.

Ginn could build more employee housing if it had to, he said.

“I personally know a few people there and I’m sure they want to work with the situation,” he said.

Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or slynn@vaildaily.com.


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