Winter Park Resort to break ground on new workforce housing
Resort officials say construction on two new buildings with 300 units at the base of the resort will start in early summer.
In another step toward addressing the critical workforce housing shortage in Grand County, Winter Park Resort announced Tuesday that it intends to begin construction this summer on two employee housing units with a total of 300 living spaces each.
Resort spokesperson Jen Miller said construction on the buildings is set to begin in early summer. She added that the housing, which will sit on land at the resort across from The Vintage Hotel, has “been in the works” for some time. But, due to the urgency of the workforce housing situation right now, it has been “moved up on the priority list” of projects the resort has planned, including “guest-facing” ones like new lifts, terrain and development.
In a press release earlier this week, the resort gave a broad overview of its reasoning and plan for the project. But in an interview with the Sky-Hi News, Miller revealed more details about how Winter Park currently manages workforce housing, what its plans are for the new development (and existing employee housing the resort owns in Grand County) and how it hopes the future housing will help community members beyond resort employees.
Miller stated that Winter Park Resort is challenged in providing housing to seasonal employees because “a lot of times, community housing is based on a year-long lease, and people don’t work at the resort for a full year.”
To try and answer that need, the resort has purchased or acquired master leases on roughly 400 units throughout the Fraser Valley over time, Miller said. She declined to say what those units cost to rent per month, but said the resort subsidizes employees’ rent.
The new housing will follow those guidelines, but make it easier on employees because it will exist specifically for seasonal workers. It will also address other problems, like traffic congestion and transportation to and from the resort for employees, while “freeing up those other units we have…for members of the community not working at Winter Park” to live in, Miller added.
The new development will contain a mix of studios and “locked-off individual rooms,” said Miller.
“It’s not dormitory-style, so that’s a big bonus,” she added. “It’s more the way people want to live, to have some privacy. There will be shared kitchens and living areas. Lounge areas.”
Winter Park employs roughly 350 “year-round core staff” and another 600 full-time staff in the winter. Staffing drops by about half in the summer. All-told, with existing housing stock it owns, along with the new 300 units, the project “will alleviate some pressure on the whole community, not just us,” said Miller.
Town of Winter Park Assistant Manager Alisha Janes said the Town is currently middle of a housing needs assessment associated with the Regional Housing Authority Effort. She asked if assessors had any updates on the MLS rental listings and was told they had found only 18 rentals in the entire region.
“So available rental stock is very low. Mountain Family Center also keeps a list of available rentals—their most recent lists has a handful in Winter Park (6-7) that appear to average around $1,300 per bedroom. This is likely lower than true market and is subjective based on square footage and location,” Janes said.
“As far as one-bedrooms in the Town’s workforce housing inventory, we have 10 apartments in Hideaway Place and 40 one-bedroom units under construction at Fireside Creek Apartments that will be a mix of 80-120% (average median income),” she added.
“As you can see, the Winter Park Resort project is large relative to our current one-bedroom inventory and will add much needed total capacity to our workforce housing,” Janes said.
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