Employee housing complex near Canyons Village base slated for completion this summer

Some Slopeside Village apartments opened to workers last ski season, construction should wrap-up in August

Summit County Council members and County Courthouse staffers last week toured the workforce housing project, known as Slopeside Village, that’s stationed near the Cabriolet lift at Canyons Village. The project broke ground two years ago and construction is scheduled to wrap up this summer.
David Jackson/Park Record

A small skyline that has sprouted along S.R. 224 housed hundreds of people working for the Park City area’s top employers last ski season, and it could accommodate hundreds more when the first phase of the project is fully rolled out later this summer.

Summit County officials toured the new Slopeside Village employee housing complex near the Cabriolet lift at Canyons Village on Thursday as Columbus Pacific Development prepares to wrap up construction efforts about two years after the groundbreaking for the apartments.

The private-public partnership between the county and the Canyons Village Master Association, which directs base area development, as well as large employers such as Park City Mountain, has been lauded as a unique way to tackle dynamic issues – like the dwindling housing supply and increasingly crowded roads – that are affecting the community.

County Courthouse staffers, members of the Summit County Council and resort officials last week briefly experienced what it might be like to live in one of 169 units that will be spread out across seven buildings on the site. The tour through the already completed A, B and H buildings showcased various apartment styles, which range from 10-bedroom co-living to 2-, 3-, and 4-bedroom options.

Slopeside Village could house up to 1,200 tenants, but unlike other high-density developments, it doesn’t feel like residents are sacrificing space.

Tony Tyler, a partner with Columbus Pacific Development, indicated most developers run into problems when they build too compressed – like a cruise ship. The development firm has experience working in communal living environments such as university dorms, which has helped it develop a nontraditional solution to address the problem.

The idea was put to the test during the 2022-2023 winter season when hundreds of Park City Mountain employees moved in. The resort, through a master lease for employee housing, offered 353 units to its workforce. Employees jumped at the chance to live within walking distance of the Canyons Village transit center for no more than $1,200 a month.

Around 570 total residents – including lifters, hospitality workers and restaurant employees – were living in Slopeside Village over the winter. While Tyler said there’s some vacancy in the master leased units during the shoulder season, he expects 100% occupancy annually.

Workers for the canyon’s top employers making less than 80% of the area median income, which is about $83,000 for one person, are given first priority to the units. The tiered system also gives preference to county employees and people with lower incomes.

Units at Slopeside Village start at around $400 a month. That’s about the rent for two people sharing a room in a 10-bed, 4-bath unit. There are 40 apartments of this style that can accommodate up to 12 occupants each, or 480 total residents. These units feature a row of bedrooms and baths along either side of the apartment with a kitchen and living space in the center.

Utilities, including Wi-Fi, most home furnishings and access to other amenities, such as a fitness center, a clubroom and a cleaning service, are included in the rental price. The development encourages residents to interact with each other to help humanize issues and resolve conflicts, Tyler said. There were few problems this past winter, aside from a few parties.

“You can move in with a toothbrush, your clothes, and 450 bucks a month and you’re in. That just doesn’t happen in this community,” he said. “Three bedrooms with a white picket fence may be the ideal, but it’s not the expectation in this marketplace.”

There are also traditional 2- to 4-bedroom units as well as flexible configurations that can increase the occupancy in similarly sized apartments to between four and eight people. Rent is plus or minus $1,000 for this type of housing. Additionally, there will be several townhomes made up of three bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms with a rent of around $3,100.

Property management officials estimated the market rate for a townhome in the Park City area would be around $5,500. The other apartments would be close to double the cost.

A popular rule of thumb encourages people to not spend more than 30% of their income on rent. For a person making $15 an hour, that’s close to $800 a month. Vail Resorts, the parent company of Park City Mountain, during the ski season increased the minimum wage for its workers to $20 an hour.

Emily McDonald, a communications manager for the resort, said employees have provided resoundingly positive feedback thus far.

“They say that Slopeside Village is a great location, close to work and public transit, and it provides a comfortable living experience,” she said. “The unique room configurations and sheer variety of housing options within the project provide value to a wide range of our team members, not to mention the opportunity to build a community with options for all residents … it is a game-changing housing opportunity at an incredible price point that we are proud to offer to hundreds of our employees.”

Work is still underway on four of the structures in the project. Tyler anticipates two buildings will be completed in the next 30 days, likely in June and July, with the final two opening in August. He noted that’s also around four months ahead of schedule despite challenges such as supply chain shortages and heavy snow that occurred during construction.

County officials were excited to see it come to fruition with the obligation to construct workforce housing dating back to an agreement from 1999. County Councilor Chris Robinson called the project a “win-win” situation.

The waiting list for Slopeside Village changes daily, but it’s generally around 500 names long. The high demand has resulted in virtually no occupancy risk, which means investors are more likely to get involved.

The growing interest is also influencing how Columbus Pacific Development approaches phase 2 as it focuses on the three pillars of its mission: affordability, sustainability and community benefit.

Tyler said the developer has started collecting data and is beginning to have internal discussions about what the second portion of the project should look like, though it is expected to be oriented toward couples and single families. These units would likely appear on two sites, a courtyard space as well as two acres near S.R. 224, that could be developed to accommodate up to 500 additional residents – but everything is still preliminary.

Construction wouldn’t start until the fall of next year with delivery 18 to 24 months after that under the best-case scenario, according to Tyler.

“Affordable housing is kind of like planting a tree: the best time to do it was 20 years ago. But the next best time is today,” he said. Tyler praised the partnerships that permitted the development, adding that the Slopeside Village project can be replicated elsewhere. “The model can and should be expanded beyond that footprint to help continue to address the housing crisis that we have across the Wasatch Back.”

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