Architects unveil vision for US Highway 40 workforce housing
The town is ready to move forward with constructing housing near City Market
Those just arriving to Granby may wonder why, when there is so much perceived open space, there seems to be nowhere for locals to live. Granby is one of the country’s top tourist destinations, meaning that it is easy for the people to find a hotel or short-term rental, but not so much a permanent home.
Although affordable housing in Granby has so far been elusive, the town has a new vision to transform the land between the Silver Sage subdivision and Flying Heels rodeo arena into long-awaited workforce housing. The town owns the property, as well as a nearby parcel that gives the development direct access to U.S. Highway 40. The property is considered prime real estate since it is within walking distance to City Market’s shopping center and Kaibab Park — 10 Mile Creek flows behind it, burbling along and providing habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife.
The 30-acre lot was formerly meant for the Rodeo Apartments, but the development fell through in 2020. The town went back to the drawing board, partnering with Pel-Ona Architects & Urbanists. Pel-Ona is a Boulder-based company, with a portfolio of mixed used, mixed income and green-space developments. The company helped design an affordable housing development in Breckenridge, which Granby Town Manager Ted Cherry and trustees Kristie DeLay and Chris Michalowski toured in 2021.
“We walked over this bridge, and the first thing we saw were people in the green spaces having a kid’s birthday party,” Cherry said of their tour. “Kids were playing on the bouncy house … just having a good time.”
The scene inspired Cherry and the trustees to bring the vision home.
“I think our workforce housing has the potential to become a very cool neighborhood that can integrate well with the Granby community,” Cherry said.
According to a town memo by Cherry, “The goal of this project is to provide a variety of housing options for the members of the community … it is intended that the properties are for full-time residents who will add significant value to the community as employees.”
The housing is reserved for teachers, medical staff, service and retail industry employees, and trade workers.
Architect Ronnie Pelusio and associate Aly Burkhalter are spearheading Pel-Ona’s new design. Last fall, they surveyed the public on what they would like for workforce housing; then hosted an open house for more input in March. Pel-Ona finalized the first draft of their design, which the town approved on April 26.
The community Pel-Ona designed “is rooted in principles of a traditional neighborhood, with a focus on the pedestrian and deemphasis on the vehicle,” said Pelusio.
There will be connectivity and open spaces in the development, along with shared amenities to encourage neighborhood gatherings like the one Cherry saw in Breckenridge. The community will include a mix of apartments, townhomes, duplexes and single-family homes with yards. Roughly 300 residential units will be available both for sale and rent.
The density of dwellings decreases the farther you move into the community. Apartments will be at the frontage of Highway 40, townhomes and duplexes in the middle, and single-family homes with yards on the outskirts. This ensures that vehicle traffic will mostly be contained close to the highway, giving more room for greenery and recreational paths throughout the community.
One hundred apartments will make up 39% of all total units, 77 townhomes will make up 30%, 32 duplexes will make up 12% and 49 single-family homes will make up 19% of units. The duplexes, townhomes and single-family homes will have parking and garages for people to store vehicles and toys like snowmobiles.
The recreational trail is hoped to eventually connect to the Granby-Fraser Trail to increase recreation opportunities for both the neighborhood and general public. There will be green space with room for a possible dog park, playground or other community building. There will also be a daycare center that the town of Granby can access, which hopefully will alleviate some childcare needs.
Town trustees were enthusiastic about Pel-Ona’s draft, and hope to get dirt moving on the project by spring 2023, once they secure a developer. The town is also working on finalizing housing deed restrictions for the project, such as prohibiting short-term rentals. A name for the development will be voted on by the public. The Town also hopes to expand the area median income required for units.
Currently households must earn between 80% and 120% median income, between $63,040 and $94,560 a year, to qualify to live there. The town would like to expand the requirement to between 60% and 180% AMI to allow more residents eligibility to move into the development. If the income requirement is expanded, households making $47,280 to $141,840 a year would qualify. The average household income for a Granby family of four in 2021 was $78,000.
If the development moves forward as planned, a developer will be secured by the summer of 2022, and construction will start in the late summer or early fall of 2023. Ideally, locals won’t have to wait long to find a home and close-knit community to call their own.
“This isn’t going to solve our entire housing problem, but it can make a good dent. I keep referring to it as a neighborhood, since I feel that’s what it’s going to be,” Cherry said. “This needs to be a place where you can move from an apartment to a duplex to a house, all within your kids’ lifetimes.”
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