Guest opinion: Proposed Basin development addresses affordable housing shortage
Highland Flats developers
The scarcity of housing and dire need for affordable housing has been well documented in Summit County. Park City Municipal has declared that social equity is a “critical priority,” and has partnered with the Park City Community Foundation to fulfill “a vision of a complete community where everyone has equitable access to opportunity, and feels respected, included, safe, and empowered.” Education, housing and inclusion are the three pillars of this collaborative Social Equity Strategic Plan.
On Nov. 16, Jeff Jones, Summit County’s economic development and housing director, gave a presentation to the Summit County Council. Within the presentation, data from the James Wood study shows the following.
Jeff Jones and James Wood Assessment of Affordability:
• An annual rental need of 231 units for Summit County from 2019-2023
• The greatest needs for rentals lie within the 31%-50% AMI (area median income) range (63 units annually)
• In 2020, only 39 affordable housing units received a building permit: 0 units at less than 30% AMI; 16 units at less than 50% AMI; 23 units at less than 80% AMI.
• 2020 deficit: 192 rental units within Park City, Snyderville Basin and eastern Summit County
As the developers of Highland Flats, a proposed 410-unit affordable rental community in Park City’s Highland Estates area, it is our hope to help the community with its housing and inclusion initiatives. We feel that our 40-acre parcel by the Interstate 80/U.S. 40 interchange is an ideal location for such development. It boasts easy access to freeways and the bus route and is an existing residential area. If not here, then where?
As long-time owners of this parcel, over the years we have carefully considered various uses for land that would best meet the community’s needs. After many discussions with local civic and business leaders, nonprofits and educational leaders, we have arrived at the conclusion that affordable rentals are crucial. And we have come up with an Area Median Income breakdown for the apartments and townhomes that has never been seen before in Park City. 30-50% AMI rentals would allow those who serve our community to live here. These are service industry workers, child care providers and essential workers who are the backbone of Summit County.
And despite skepticism about affordability, these homes will indeed be affordable, and tenants will be required to be primary residents and work locally. Rents on 30% AMI units, for example, will be $590-769 per month for one to three bedrooms. Thirty-five percent (144 units) of the community will consist of 30-80% AMI units, with 23% (93 units) between 30-50% AMI. Forty-five percent (180 units) are reserved for moderate income levels (80%-120% AMI), and the remaining 20% (86 units) are available for market rate rentals (120%+ AMI). To achieve inclusion, affordable units will be completely integrated throughout — there will be no distinction between market rate and affordable homes. Sixty-five percent of the community will remain open space, and we have configured the buildings in a manner that will not obstruct neighbors’ views.
We encourage the community to contribute to the conversation at the Feb. 23 Summit County Planning Commission public hearing. It is our desire to continue to hear from affordable housing proponents as well as those who have concerns, so we can thoughtfully address them as we move forward. We understand change is difficult, but as Park City and Snyderville grow and become less affordable, we feel it is a privilege and obligation to be part of the solution for a community we love.
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Jim Arnold of Jeremy Ranch writes that the community cannot continue to operate without a long-range plan for development.