Vail’s housing investments are paying big dividends
Study shows significant returns on town's investments in Vail InDeed program
- 5%: Return on investment for every deed restriction purchased.
- $8,400: Amount every deed-restricted home can save businesses turnover and training costs.
- 2.2: Average number of employees in every deed-restricted unit.
- 95,000: Gallons of fuel per year saved by commuters who move into Vail-based deed-restricted housing.
- Source: Economic & Planning Systems, Inc.
VAIL — The Vail 2027 Housing Plan was passed because of the perceived economic value of deed-restricted housing in Vail. Now there are numbers to back that perception.
The Vail Town Council on Tuesday got its first look at a study measuring the “Economic Value & Community Benefits of Resident Housing Investment.” That study was commissioned by the Vail Local Housing Authority and conducted by Denver-based Economic & Planning Systems Inc.
The study measured the return on investment of the Vail InDeed program, which purchases deed restrictions on existing homes. Those restrictions reduce the price of for-sale homes, while permanently keeping those homes available for long-term residents.
Covering a lot of ground
The study covers a lot of ground. Economic benefits are covered, of course.
The study estimates that every 100 units of resident housing can create:
- $2.6 million in increased annual household spending in town.
- $116,000 in new local sales tax revenue.
The study also includes community benefits for every 100 units of workforce housing, including:
- The elimination of more than 40,000 commuting hours per year.
- A reduction of 845 metric tons of carbon emissions.
So far, the town, through the housing authority, has spent an average of about $65,000 for the 116 deed restrictions purchased so far under the Vail InDeed program. According to the Economic & Planning Systems study, that investment has so far had a return of roughly 5% just in new sales tax and new state funding for generating new students for Red Sandstone Elementary School.
Investing in deed restrictions also saves the town from spending in other areas, particularly parking. The study estimates that if the town built structured parking instead of investing in deed restrictions, roughly 113 new spaces per year would be required. Based on a cost of roughly $100,000 per space of structured parking, that comes at an annual cost of about $11.3 million.
Councilmembers praised the study, but had suggestions for more research.
Councilmember Greg Moffet said that employees living where they work can generate a “feeling of well-being and belonging” in a community. That’s partially reflected in the study, which notes that guests interacting with local residents have a better experience.
Mayor Dave Chapin, a partner in Vendetta’s restaurant in Vail Village, said he appreciates the emphasis on building community by bringing more full-time residents to town.
Significant business impacts
But, Chapin added, “We’re a sales tax-based economy. I know some businesses are shutting down on certain days, or slowing down.”
Chapin added that recruiting and retraining employees comes at a high cost to businesses.
There’s also the matter of employee burnout.
Councilmember Jenn Bruno, co-owner of the Luca Bruno clothing stores in Vail, said that fatigue affects the guest experience.
Councilmember Kim Langmaid has long advocated for stricter regulations on owners of property used for short-term rentals. Langmaid said she’d like to see the Economic & Planning Systems report somehow linked to the impact of short-term rentals.
“I feel like we’re bleeding housing in that way,” Langmaid said.
David Schwartz of Economic & Planning Systems said another firm worked on a study on the impact of short-term rentals, but that firm’s client didn’t release the findings.
More data is coming on the town’s housing stock, though. Vail Local Housing Authority Chairman Steve Lindstrom said that group is looking at budgeting money in its 2020 budget for a data study of the use of all of Vail’s roughly 7,200 housing units.
“We can start analyzing that data, updating as we go along,” Lindstrom said, adding that the authority board is continuing to evaluate the social benefits of workforce housing.
“I’d say the value of employee housing? Priceless,” Lindstrom said.
When the Vail Town Council on Tuesday night upheld an Aug. 26 Planning and Environmental Commission decision to approve a housing project in East Vail, it cleared the way for a final town approval, and more work.