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Forest Service sale offers new opportunities for workforce housing development
Contacts:Jim Curnutte, Community Development Director970-668-4203, firstname.lastname@example.org Gary Martinez, County Manager970-453-3401, email@example.com
SUMMIT COUNTY – The Summit Board of County Commissioners gave the green light Tuesday for the County’s purchase of the Lake Hill property from the U.S. Forest Service at a price of $1.75 million, paving the way for future workforce housing development. The 44.81-acre property is located just northeast of Frisco, between Dillon Dam Road and Interstate 70.
The price, officially presented in a U.S. Forest Service Consideration Memo signed Dec. 2, is based upon an appraisal commissioned by Summit County, and a subsequent federal appraisal review report completed in November. The review report concluded that the final appraised value is in alignment with similar property sales in the market.
“We feel this is a very fair price for the Lake Hill property, and this purchase represents a significant step forward in our workforce housing efforts,” Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs said. “We’re extremely appreciative of the considerable time and effort our partners at the U.S. Forest Service spent to get us to this point. And we’re also very grateful to Congressman Jared Polis and Sen. Mark Udall for all the legwork they did to allow us to purchase this parcel of federal land.”
The U.S. Forest Service received Congressional approval to sell the property through the Lake Hill Administrative Site Affordable Housing Act, signed by President Barack Obama in July 2014. Polis and Udall introduced the legislation in their respective chambers in 2013.
“This is an important milestone on our road to finally bringing much-needed workforce housing to our mountain communities,” Congressman Polis said. “As these communities continue to grow, quality affordable housing options are becoming scarce, yet they are absolutely critical for the future development of the region. We’re thrilled to be able to use this property in an efficient way that helps the U.S. Forest Service and also serves workers and businesses in Summit County.”
The U.S. Forest Service had identified the Lake Hill property for disposal and/or administrative use, given the loss of its forest character many years ago following the construction of I-70, and the more recent devastation by the mountain pine beetle. The site is well suited for workforce housing because of its central location in the county and its proximity to public transit and other services. Preliminary estimates by Summit County indicate that the parcel could accommodate between 250 and 350 housing units, with the final number to be determined through the development planning process.
Summit County and the U.S. Forest Service have not yet scheduled a closing on the property but are anticipating completing the sale within the next several weeks. Per the Congressional act, the sale of the land will provide funding for the capital improvement and maintenance of U.S. Forest Service facilities in U.S. Forest Service Region 2.
Summit County is now conducting a search for a firm to develop a master plan for the Lake Hill site. The master plan will serve as a road map for development, with recommendations on the number, types and configurations of housing units, as well as the target income levels of workers who will occupy them. The County and consultant team will reach out to community members and stakeholders this spring to gather input on the optimal use of the site, with the goal of completing the master plan by the end of summer 2016.
Among the initial hurdles in the development of the site will be the construction of water and sewer infrastructure connections, road improvements and extensions of other utilities.
“We still have quite a lot of work to do before we pound the first nail, but we’ve reached a major milestone today,” Summit County Commissioner Thomas Davidson said. “You’d be hard-pressed to find another centrally located, vacant parcel in Summit County that’s suitable for a workforce housing project of this scale.”