Summit County and Breckenridge officials visit Fading West modular home facility in Buena Vista
When community leaders gathered for the Summit County Housing Action Initiative earlier this summer, an idea kicked into the mix was the use of modular homes and whether these developments could alleviate some of the problems. affordable housing in the county.
During the discussion it was noted that Western development in decline is building a facility in Buena Vista, which will fabricate and produce modular homes, and which community leaders could tour the factory and the neighboring community of units it has already developed. That tour took place on Monday, August 30, when a mix of leaders from Summit County and the Town of Breckenridge learned more about the developments.
Overall, the consensus was that these homes could be a hugely effective strategy to temper the affordable housing problem in the county over the next year or so.
“With the houses themselves, I can say they were awesome,” said Dan Osborne, Acting Summit County Planning Director. “We were able to enter the houses. It is an attractive and modern house, as you would expect if it was built with sticks or otherwise. The factory is an innovative new way of building houses.
Breckenridge Housing Manager Laurie Best said this innovation stems from the nature of the way homes are built.
“Granted, when you build your housing off-site in a factory where you control everything… it’s completely different from building where you deal with weather conditions (and) personnel and labor issues,” he said. declared Best. “This can create risks for any construction project. When modular units are built off-site, it’s a very controlled environment, and it’s very fast.
Not only that, but Breckenridge City Council member Erin Gigliello said the controlled environment also means these types of units should be developed to a higher quality.
“It’s very intriguing to take the modular home route,” Gigliello said. “I believe the idea is that it guarantees the quality in a different way because you have people working on the same units over and over again, in terms of consistency and quality, which has been demonstrated in the pass.”
Osborne said the county and towns have known about modular homes for some time, but the units were previously difficult to offer locally. Most of the facilities that produce these units are out of state and the cost of transporting them was not feasible. Osborne said the new Fading West facility less than 100 miles away makes these types of developments much easier to offer as viable housing options in the community.
“From a regional perspective, to be able to build them regionally, it’s going to be a game-changer,” Osborne said. “This will reduce transport costs. You are going to get a good product. It’s going to create jobs for people – good jobs where you’re in a conditioned environment, able to build a house for someone.
Many community leaders have also pointed out that this type of development can have a faster impact on the community’s affordable housing problem than a traditional stick-built development. Once the plant is operational, the controlled environment allows units to be developed more quickly. Once manufactured, the modules are assembled on a fixed base and the process can be completed in about a week.
It was this particular advantage that most impressed Dick Carleton, a member of Breckenridge City Council.
“If we can work with these guys and make that happen, this type of construction can deliver product to our workforce much faster than stick construction,” Carleton said. “With the crisis we are currently going through with workforce housing, this is a huge advantage. “
Best also agreed that this quick timeline could be in favor of the community. She said the city and county were in the process of identifying plots of land that could house these developments, one of which includes a 1.82 acre plot that can house 44 units. Because the county and city were already in talks about potential projects, the tour was intended only for these two entities, although a few representatives from developer Gorman & Co. also attended.
Osborne noted that no plots have yet been officially determined for any project.
While there is still work to be done, Carleton said this strategy is exciting as new units could be available as early as fall 2022.
“I think we could save up to a year in the project,” he said. “Building a stick just takes time. … Once we identify a site, they can do their design and get us quotes, and once we come to an agreement with that, then we can immediately start doing infrastructure work. And while we’re doing that, they can build houses or apartments.
Although the development looks exciting, a few participants noted that they had reservations. First, the Fading West facility is slated to open in a few months, and Carleton noted there could be issues if this was one of its first projects. Not only that, but the city wants most development to be net zero to align with its sustainability goals.
Gigliello said she would like to see more details on unit pricing, especially when it comes to infrastructure. She also noted that developments must support the climate of the highlands.
As for next steps, Osborne said he and Best and their teams will continue to work on identifying plots of land that could house modular homes while Fading West completes construction on its new facility.
Some of the other people who attended were Summit County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence, Summit County Housing Director Jason Dietz, Summit County Director Scott Vargo, Summit County Housing Planner Brandon Howes and Breckenridge Community Development Director Mark Truckey.