Summit County board approves West Hills workforce-housing project in Keystone
KEYSTONE — Shovels could be in the ground as early as September on the West Hills workforce-housing project following Summit County’s Tuesday approval of the 66-unit development in Keystone.
The deal, between the county and residential developer Summit Homes Construction, first required obtaining the deed to the 11.5-acre parcel of land from Vail Resorts, Inc., which caused months of delays on the final agreement. Attorneys for Vail and the county met this past Friday and hammered out the details, giving the county rights to the property and consent to build housing on it.
That step was formalized earlier in the Tuesday meeting after the county previously requested the land on the north side of U.S. Highway 6 at Antlers Gulch Road from Vail. The transfer of Parcel D on the Wintergreen property was a stipulation included in the guiding document for the Keystone area once the county was ready to develop it, for the purpose of a school or to maintain as open space. Placing employee housing there instead necessitated Vail’s permission, which the county received.
“It’s been a bit of a long process, but I think the negotiations have gone well — they’ve concluded,” Keely Ambrose, county assistant attorney, told the board during the meeting. “We’re excited about having a coordinated project going on with Wintergreen.”
The adjacent land is also the site of the recently approved Village at Wintergreen workforce complex on which Vail is working with development partner Gorman & Company. The county board gave the thumbs up to that 196-unit Snake River Basin project on May 22.
Deed now in hand for West Hills, and the county’s endorsement recorded shortly thereafter, a site plan review is the next step and scheduled for Wednesday. Final language about how the deed restriction and homeowners association will function, as well as specifics on the development’s landscaping, will be hashed out later at another public forum.
“These things do take a long time,” Summit Homes’ Tim Crane said of the overall process. “But we are getting close to the finish line and we are ready. I think the pieces are in place to move forward, and I’m excited about this.”
He stated the goal is to be working on vertical construction by this fall and, based on initial access to utilities, to have the first two or three for-sale units completed by this winter. It’s possible the other 22 or 23 townhomes as part of the project’s first phase could be finished by fall 2018.
That first phase will include three triplexes and eight duplexes. Each unit will be either a two- or three-bedroom townhome of approximately 1,150 square feet, plus a one-car garage.
Crane agreed to the first 25 units as part of a deal with the county last year that authorized him to build market-rate homes at two other Keystone properties — The Alder’s and Brown’s Cabin developments. Crane will fund the full cost of the first phase and then work with the county to put them on the market at an agreed-upon rate that has yet to be determined.
“Our goal is obviously to make the cost of ownership as low as possible for these homes,” he said of West Hills. “It’s something special when you’re able to walk through somebody’s new home that they never thought they would be able to own in Breckenridge or Summit County.”
Summit Homes has built nearly 200 other affordable units within the county, including the Copper Point Townhomes at Copper Mountain Resort and both Pinewood Village 2 and the Valley Brook Neighborhood in Breckenridge.
The second phase of the West Hills project, which could be as many as 41 for-sale units, then becomes the county’s responsibility, although Crane can be contracted to build those, too. As proposed, those would be made up of three triplexes and four condo-style buildings with eight units each.
Just one member of the public, a homeowner in the Antlers Gulch Townhomes that will abut both the West Hills and Village at Wintergreen developments, stood up to speak during the meeting. Ruth Brocko, who was also representing her HOA board, said she was mostly supportive of the West Hills project, but remained wary of the added congestion and maintenance to limited infrastructure once it’s completed.
“It more than doubles how many people are using the road,” said Brocko, “and probably triples or quadruples the actual use. Suddenly it’s being used by what potentially could be up to 1,000 people. So we’re very concerned about what kind of traffic impact that’s going to have.”
The county confirmed it plans to address the area’s access points sometime down the road. For the meanwhile, county personnel was pleased to have the West Hills agreement settled once the board unanimously approved its terms, and the room was filled with claps and smiles.
“Now the fun begins,” said Ambrose.