Mtn Hive: Co-living project eyed for the valley’s worker bees
Proposed Edwards development calls for 260 to 270 single- and double-occupancy units
EDWARDS — When Makenzie Mueller, a 2012 Battle Mountain High School graduate, decided to move home and join the family business, she became one of the dozens of 20-somethings in the valley who couldn’t find a place to live.
However, her situation dripped with extra irony. Makenzie is a vice president of Remonov and Company — the business launched by her dad, Rick Mueller, and partner Robert Hernreich — the developer of Edwards Commercial Park, Edwards Corner and Edwards Village Center. One would think that someone tuned into the local building scene and tied to a successful real estate company could find a place to land. No such luck, Makenzie Mueller reports. As a result, she is still residing in Boulder.
“I started working for our family company about two years ago,” she said. That’s about how long she and her boyfriend have been apartment hunting.
“Even with the extra budget with two people, we haven’t been able to find anything,” she said.
So, when Makenzie Mueller shares the story of Remonov’s latest development plan, it’s a personal tale. What’s more, the development team hopes its a revolutionary one. It’s the story of a new housing concept called Mtn Hive, which is being proposed in Edwards.
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Worker bees, living together
The project’s name is actually its function.
“It’s based on the idea of worker bees all living together,” said Rick Mueller.
Mtn Hive is not the first co-living project in the valley. Earlier this year, The House opened in Eagle, a renovation of the former AmericInn motel. Earlier this month, developer Bobby Warner received approval from the Eagle County Board of Commissioners to renovate Warner Professional Building No. 2 in EagleVail as a shared living space.
But Mtn Hive is the first, from-the-ground-up co-living project proposed in the valley.
Mtn Hive is planned south of the Edwards Corner building, in a hillside area currently defined by retaining walls. The proposal calls for 260 to 270 single- and double-occupancy units. There will be three unit types, and they will range in size from 180 square feet to 300 square feet. Each unit will include a bathroom and small kitchen space, along with a living area that will convert to a bedroom when a Murphy bed is pulled down from a wall. The units will be fully furnished.
“All you need is a suitcase and your sports equipment and we will do the rest,” Makenzie Mueller said.
The Remonov crew believes they have hit the sweet spot for private-shared spaces in Mtn Hive.
“There is a point where the units get too small and if they get too large, you lose your concept,” Rick Mueller said. “But this is not a run-of-the-mill, share a bedroom plan. We are setting up a concept. We are setting up a place where you want to live.”
The list of proposed amenities at Mtn Hive include:
- A fitness center that offers classes
- Bike and ski storage with tuning spaces
- Central lounges
- Working nooks
- A mini-market and resident bar
- Shared gourmet kitchens
- On-site laundry
- Weekly events
Monthly rental rates at The Hive are expected to range from $1,500 to $2,100 with gym access, utilities and storage rental included.
“Including those items should save residents about $400 per month,” Rick Mueller said.
But beyond the basics of finding a living space, Makenzie Mueller said The Hive will provide something equally valuable — a community.
“What makes me most excited about all of this is the idea of building a community. That’s one of the hardest things to find as a young adult,” she said.
With weekly programs, on-site facilities and a location within walking distance of the Edwards business core, Makenzie Mueller believes Mtn Hive will give residents the community vibe they crave. In the long term, she believes it will actually help the county’s overall mental health efforts.
According to Makenzie Mueller, Hernreich first came up with the idea of bringing a co-living concept to the Vail Valley after seeing projects in Europe. For the past two years, she has vetted the concept, visiting co-living projects around the globe.
“Our plan most closely resembles The Collective in London,” she said.
Prior to submitting its formal application to Eagle County, the Mtn Hive team has been shopping the proposal around to groups and individuals in the Edwards area. Makenzie Mueller noted some local businesses have expressed interest in master leasing units at Mtn Hive.
“It is hard for businesses here to positively affect the housing need,” she said. “Some businesses buy condos and then rent them out to employees. As if it isn’t hard enough to run a small business already, and then you are also a landlord.”
Makenzie Mueller believes Mtn Hive is a strong example of in-fill development that addresses county needs. But the county will have to determine the suitability of the project location along with its proposed use. As per the amended final plat for the area, permitted land uses for Tract T include pedestrian, bike and vehicular access; drainage structures; landscaping; utilities; trails; recreation facilities; and open space.
“But times have changed and there is a greater community need for workforce housing,” Rick Mueller said.
The Mtn Hive development team plans to present its proposal to Eagle County in early September. From there, it will go through staff review and public hearings before the Eagle County Planning Commission and the Eagle County commissioners.