Breckenridge area turns to hotel properties to alleviate shortage of employee housing

FRISCO | The lack of workforce housing in Summit County is an issue that cannot be resolved overnight, and will require multiple partners and solutions to address it. Local leaders and business owners continue to identify potential short- and long-term strategies, and one of them is turning hotel spaces into long-term rentals.

It is not a new concept in the region. In neighboring Eagle County, a hotel was converted to an apartment complex in 2018. Called The House, the property consists of 54 studios covering approximately 300 square feet, including living room, bathroom and a kitchenette, according to the property’s website.

Similar concepts are now making their way to Summit County.

The county became the owner
At a County Commissioners Council working meeting on June 15, Summit County Housing Director Jason Dietz outlined several strategies the county could use to help alleviate the affordable housing shortage, including l One included working with Alpine Inn in Frisco to rent out its units.

Isabel Rawson is the manager of the Alpine Inn, which is owned by her father. Rawson said she and her father were aware of the critical need for housing in the community and had already thought about ways to use their property to help be part of the solution.

The two have teamed up with Summit County to strike a one-year rental agreement, which Rawson says will work well for both parties.

“We’re longtime locals, so we know what a big local housing problem we have here in the county, and we saw this as an opportunity where we came to good terms,” Rawson said. “It’s going to work wonderfully for both parties and kind of also give back to the community, which is so important.”

The hostel’s 37 units will remain the same, no renovations are necessary, and the county takes care of most of the details, such as determining the rental price and how payments will be made.

Rawson said the few staff at the Alpine Inn would no longer be needed as the county plans to hire a property manager and a cleaning company to take care of the common areas.

Dietz said many details were still pending, such as changing the occupancy of a hotel to a condominium hotel with the city of Frisco and confirmation of the rental price. Dietz said the unit price would be at or below 80% of the region’s median income, which is $ 53,840 for one person. At the county commissioners’ meeting on June 15, Dietz said the units would cost around $ 850 per month.

Dietz said the county paid about $ 550,000 for the lease for the year and expects to recover about $ 150,000 through rent and other means.

Regarding the lifespan of the premises, Dietz said the county plans to offer a variety of lease terms, such as three months, six months and more.

“We’re looking at doing a variety of lease terms, as some people can use it as a transitional accommodation between homes or while they find something else,” Dietz said.

In the units, Dietz said there were bedrooms with two queen-size beds, which could likely fit a maximum of three people, and locking rooms that could hold a maximum of six people. Dietz said some units will also be reserved for families and those who need rooms that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to Dietz, all units will have at least a bed, desk, dresser, closet, bathroom, refrigerator, and microwave. Tenants will have access to a shared kitchen and dining room, which was previously used to serve breakfast to hotel guests. Dietz said the county plans to add additional hotplates so tenants have space to cook their own meals.

In addition to the common dining room, tenants will also have access to a washer and dryer on site.

Dietz said one of the downsides of the property is that there is only sufficient parking for one vehicle per room and the county has no plans to secure an overflow parking lot, although the hostel does located near the Frisco transit center.

Other utilities and services – such as internet, cable, garbage and snow removal – will be paid for by the county. Dietz noted that each room has its own heating and air conditioning.

As to when the units will be available, Dietz said he and his team are aiming for leases to begin later this month or by August 1. For those wishing to live at the Alpine Inn, Dietz recommended emailing the Summit County Housing Department. at [email protected] to join a list. Dietz said the county plans to use that list, along with other channels like social media, to publicize housing availability.

Dietz noted that the project has already shown interest from community members and that he hopes the project will help address the growing housing shortage.

“Right now the county is looking at several avenues to alleviate the housing crisis, this one is just one,” Dietz said. “This is an opportunity that we found and that we wanted to take advantage of to help people who need housing.

“From the article on the accommodation plan a few weeks ago, we had people who contacted and wanted to know more about this hotel and be put on a list of interest. These people include teachers looking to relocate here from other locations and local residents who currently live here for long periods of time but lose their long term rentals. We’re hoping we’ll be able to provide some sort of transitional housing for the local workforce with this project and potentially bring in more projects like this as we work on more permanent solutions.

Work together, live together
The Alpine Inn isn’t the only hotel property in the area. The Breckenridge-based Peak 1 Express shuttle service purchased the Fairplay-Valiton Hotel in Fairplay in neighboring Park County and is now offering the property as employee accommodation.

Owner Duke Bradford said that since 2012 hiring problems have gradually worsened due to the housing shortage. In 2018 he started thinking about buying a property to help fill the need, and in 2019 he bought the Fairplay-Valiton Hotel.

“The housing issue is not a new issue,” Bradford said. “Ever since the VRBO and Airbnb world was born, and the resorts, it really took all of the housing from the local workforce. Having said that, we had determined that we needed to make accommodation our priority, so we decided to tackle it and try to develop housing for the workforce.

With 22 units, Bradford said it currently has 20 people living there, all of whom work at Peak 1 Express’s Breckenridge site. Between Peak 1’s Breckenridge and Vail locations, in addition to owning AVA Rafting and Zipline, Bradford said it employs around 150 people in and around Summit County.

Bradford said this particular property made sense to his business because of the number of units it offered, its proximity to Peak 1 in Breckenridge and also because the Summit Stage has a Park County road that runs through Fairplay .

As to who can live there, Bradford said the property is really meant to be transitional housing.

“Our goal with our particular housing system was to attract people to work at Peak 1 Express and then we allow them to be on a month-to-month lease so… they could step in the door and stay at Fairplay at our. employee housing, ”Bradford said. “Then if they want to keep looking for housing, whether it’s in Fairplay or Summit County, they could. If they were able to find accommodation, they could move out of our employees’ accommodation… in the house they found when they wanted.

Bradford said Peak 1 also subsidizes units to make them affordable, ranging from $ 500 to $ 650 per month, plus $ 60 for utilities.

Each of the rooms has a bed, a wardrobe, a private bathroom, a small refrigerator and a microwave. Tenants can also use the common living areas, which include a shared kitchen where they can prepare their meals.

In addition to offering the hotel as lodging, Peak 1 Express says on its website that other perks include free ski passes, free passes to one of Summit County’s recreation centers, a paid training, free shuttle services, family discounts, discounted rafting trips with AVA Rafting and Zipline and more.

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