By Deborah Myerson
The Town of Frisco, in Summit County, Colorado, enjoys the tourist economy of Colorado mountain towns but is also familiar with the housing challenges typical of resort communities: a rapidly growing population, high housing and construction costs that outpace wages, and many second homes with part-time occupancy.
To address a need for affordable housing for local year-round working residents, Frisco undertook an intensive planning and development process, partnering with Ten Mile Partners, LLC to produce the Peak One Neighborhood, a community of 69 single-family homes and duplexes.
Frisco is in Summit County, in a region that is home to famous ski resorts, including Breckenridge, Vail, Keystone, and Copper Mountain. The resident population of Frisco is about 30,000 – but during the ski season and summer holidays, the county population swells to over 100,000. Frisco is also surrounded by U.S. Forest Service property that creates limits on developable land.
The Town of Frisco works closely with the Summit Combined Housing Authority (SCHA) to coordinate the Town’s housing projects and programs with other County-wide efforts. The SCHA, established in 2002, serves as an important resource to support the development of affordable and workforce housing throughout the county. A 2005 Housing Needs Assessment commissioned by the SCHA created an important awareness and specific numbers that documented the growing housing challenges in the community. This assessment, updated in 2013, also helped to generate substantial voter support for funding for affordable housing.
Voters in Summit County have been supportive of creating funding sources to address local housing needs. In 2015, voters renewed Measure 5A, a dedicated sales and use tax and development impact fee first to fund local resident and affordable workforce housing in the county. Between 2007 and 2015, 5A generated more than $13 million in revenue, used to purchase and develop land for workforce housing and create 335 housing units. The Town of Frisco has used 5A funds to waive a variety of development fees to lower the cost of development, as well as set aside funds for down payments and home-financing assistance.
The Town of Frisco established its own affordable housing policies in 2008, modeled after county and state policies. The town’s priority is to support programs and incentives that provide housing opportunities for persons who are actively employed in Frisco and Summit County.
Key factors for the success of Peak One Neighborhood include the donation of town-owned land for affordable housing development, strong local affordable housing policies, dedicated funding to support affordable housing, successful public engagement and comprehensive master planning, deed restrictions for qualified incomes and residency, and limited equity appreciation for permanent affordability.