Dillon town council voted to continue discussion of a proposed mixed-use development prior to approving the application. Council will re-convene on Feb. 2 to make a decision with more detailed information on unit types, management and a few architectural changes.
Dillon’s planning and zoning commission recommended approval of the project, with a requirement that the developer better articulate building facades and bring the building’s elevations to higher architectural standards.
Adriano’s Bistro owner Ivano Ottoborgo and Lake Dillon Conoco owner Daniel Eilts are spearheading the five-story development, called the “Dillon Gateway” project for its proximity to Highway 6. The proposed building would be constructed at the current location of Adriano’s Bistro, with a new space for the restaurant, two retail units and 65 residential units.
“We struggled developing an identity in the town of Dillon for a number of years,” Mike Smith, owner of Dillon Ridge Liquors, said during public comment. “I know they’re putting their entire heart into doing this. This is positive, and I think we need to make it happen.”
While town council members shared a similar enthusiasm for new development coming to Dillon, a few looming questions prevented a final vote of approval. Differing expectations for workforce housing, as well as a requested exemption for the building’s height were two hot topics on Tuesday.
“You’re checking so many of the boxes. This is really exciting,” Mayor Pro-Tem Louis Skowyra said, adding that he would like more clarification on the project’s proposed workforce housing.
“I’m getting hung up on the workforce housing issue,” he added. “That to me is a huge component for what we’re talking about here.”
DEFINING WORKFORCE HOUSING
The proposed planned use development noted that 17 rental apartment units would be designated as “workforce housing,” while the remaining 46 units would be condominiums sold at market value. However, the most recent iteration of the plan noted that the apartments would also be rented out at market rate but would be deed restricted in that they could not be bought or sold.
“I get more excited about 17 workforce housing units than 17 apartment units,” Skowyra noted.
According to Summit Combined Housing Authority executive director Jennifer Kermode, the market rate for a single-bedroom apartment is about $1,300, affordable for individuals with a minimum income of $54,600.
By comparison, the annual median income for a one-person household in Summit County in 2015 was $60,700. Low income is defined as 70 percent AMI, or $46,100 and below. And the larger a household, the higher the required income.
“Our intention is workforce housing is housing that’s affordable for local wages,” Kermode said. “It’s for people who are gainfully employed and working for the benefit of Summit County.”
Both town council members and Dillon residents weighed in on ways to reach a compromise to include apartment units specifically directed at local workers. Councilmember Ben Raitano suggested including a specification for long-term rentals in the development or setting aside a few apartments to specifically be income restricted.
Dillon resident Cindy Bargell also noted the development didn’t specify rentals specifically for employees in the community, another potential option.
“By definition, workforce housing is not market-rate housing,” Dillon Mayor Kevin Burns said. “In your documentation, you specifically refer to these as workforce-housing units. For me to move forward, I need to know what you intend.”
While Ottoborgo agreed to further look into more affordable housing options, he raised concerns about the total cost.
“If you want a structure that is a beautiful structure, with underground parking, those things are not free,” he said. “The word is what we’re caught up on.”
Kermode noted that while income-restricted units are less profitable to develop, there are a few resources to encourage developers in that direction. For example, an IRS program can offer low-income housing tax credits to developers who reserve units for individuals below a specific income level.
“For private developers to do it up here, it just doesn’t really happen,” she said. “The cost of construction is still the same. The cost of operating them is still the same. … That’s why the tax credit is such a valuable tool.”
Without the workforce housing aspect, Councilmember Brad Bailey said the development came down to height and architecture.
The proposed development is would reach a height of 68 feet, 10 feet taller than town code requirements. Set on a 1.05-acre lot that drops nearly 30 feet, it is not an easy space to develop.
“That’s one of the things that makes this project kind of hard to conceive,” Dillon town engineer Dan Burroughs said.
In comparison with the surrounding building elevations, Dillon’s firehouse is almost 10 feet taller, while Dillon commons sit 22 feet below the roof. The steep slope of the area will make the building appear shorter from some locations, but much taller downhill.
“The great thing about this is there’s not a lot of views that this building’s gonna block. But you’re setting a precedent,” Dillon resident Kevin Stout said. “We’ve gone from a 50-foot limit to a wall that’s 80-feet high.”
Others suggested including bike racks, a connection with the bike path and more features of architectural interest. Despite the concerns, the majority of residents voiced approval in bringing new business to the town.
“Our town falls way behind the curve when it comes to new development. We should be thanking the Ottoborgo family for taking risk to develop that area downtown,” one person wrote in a submitted letter.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring the town of Dillon back to life,” another added.