Within walking distance of the Cabriolet lift at Canyons Village — ski-boot walking distance, even — officials on Monday held a groundbreaking ceremony for an employee housing complex that might be home to more than 1,000 lifites, hotel workers or waiters in coming years.
Officials from Summit County and the Canyons Village Master Association, which directs the base area’s development, touted the project as a unique example of a public-private partnership that they say will make meaningful progress in two issues affecting Summit County: an affordable housing shortage and traffic-clogged roads.
Plans call for 169 units and 789 bedrooms spread across seven buildings to house 1,107 or more employees. The buildings will be located about 1,000 feet south of the Cabriolet lift and the Canyons Village transit center, and the first building might be completed by next June.
The vision for the project is that a seasonal resort worker could share a room, pay inexpensive rent, use mass transit to head to Kimball Junction or Main Street, mostly leave their car off the street, store their gear on site and walk to work and ski.
Summit County Council Chair Glenn Wright lauded the project, touting its potential to take pressure off the private housing market while relieving the necessity for resort workers to drive to and from work.
“If you look at the surge in employees that come here every October and November, they have no place to stay. They’re renting rooms from people in the private sector, they’re sleeping in their cars if they get evicted. It’s just a disaster. And you have people maybe living four to a room in a lot of places,” Wright said. “This is going to give them very livable conditions and to get to work, they’ll walk to the Cabriolet. … From a sustainability standpoint, we’re taking potentially hundreds of cars off the road everyday.”
The apartments will be restricted to those making 80% of the area’s median income or less, according to the employee housing master agreement between the county and the master association. In 2021, 80% of the area’s median income for one person was just shy of $67,000. Rents will be capped at no more than 30% of that amount, which could yield a rent of up to $1,670 per month plus utilities.
Summit County assisted in the project’s creation by bonding for the money to purchase the land, which it now owns. Property owners within Canyons Village will repay the county using an instrument similar to a tax called a special assessment.
The arrangement, Wright said, essentially gave the master association, which oversees development in the area, access to the county’s AAA bond rating. That allowed it to secure “rock-bottom financing,” Wright said, which can be especially important in creating affordable housing projects.
“This is really a perfect example of how a private-public partnership can operate to do good for the community,” he said.
He indicated the county could pursue a similar arrangement for other future developments.
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