Summit County sells affordable unit in Bear Hollow, plans to offer more
Summit County recently sold a workforce or otherwise affordable unit in the Bear Hollow subdivision off of S.R. 224, the first of several units the county plans to acquire, then sell, over the next year.
Elected officials in August directed Summit County Manager Tom Fisher to partner with Mountainlands Community Housing Trust to identify units the county could purchase and resell. It would allow the county to ensure the properties remain in the affordable pool by purchasing them and resetting the deed restrictions. The program with Mountainlands Community Housing Trust focuses on monitoring deed-restricted properties to determine whether they are in line with the county’s current standards.
Jeff Jones, Summit County’s economic development director, said there are 60 units in Bear Hollow that are deed restricted as affordable. But, some of the units are being offered as nightly rentals, which is not prohibited.
“They don’t have some of the other protections that we would look at today such as requiring the units to be owner-occupied or occupied by the local workforce,” he said. “Those units ended up being used in the nightly rental pool or for vacation homes, and that is not what the mission of those restrictions were intended for 20 years ago.”
Elected officials prioritized the need to create more affordable housing in recent years, recognizing the struggles individuals face finding housing in a predominantly resort-driven market. Summit County’s average cost of living is higher than the rest of the state.
Jones pointed to Rob Katz, chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts, highlighting the issue during an address at the Community Leadership Lecture in Park City on March 18. Katz discussed the need for workforce housing as one of the broader issues facing Park City and Summit County.
Jones said there are about 850 affordable units that are set to be built throughout the county, including rooms at the Canyons Village at Park City Mountain Resort for Vail Resorts employees.
“I think we obviously still have a problem in Summit County when it comes to affordable housing,” Jones said. “But, we are slowly chipping away at it.”
The units at Bear Hollow offer the county a unique opportunity since the “housing stock is already there,” Jones said. The units are located near transit stops and shopping centers. The county is using money from developers’ fees to purchase the units. Developers have the option of constructing units as part of the county’s workforce housing requirement or contributing to an escrow account as part of the approval process for projects.
“We just need to put them back out for our community,” he said. “When it comes to new housing, it takes a while for those units to get out of the ground. These are already constructed.”
Steve Laurent, deputy director for Mountainlands Community Housing Trust, said some of the restrictions that are being considered for the Bear Hollow units include income qualifications, local workforce preferences and owner occupancy.
“Each of the features of a housing deed restriction, including price restrictions, which help ensure affordability over time, contribute to building an inclusive, equitable and complete community,” he said. “Under the ‘old’ Bear Hollow restrictions, certain units are not serving the community in the way the county intended.”
The housing trust purchased a unit at the same time the county purchased one. At least five more units are expected to be purchased by both entities throughout the year, with an additional two later this spring.
“We have begun contacting these owners and offering to purchase their units so that updated deed restrictions can be recorded and the homes resold to local moderate-income working households,” Laurent said. “The program is an important component of the county’s strategic priority for workforce housing.”
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Councilor Glenn Wright estimated that the ability to provide renewable energy sources for county power will cost the average Summit County resident $0.70 per year above current costs.