Village Court Apartments in Mountain Village is on track to be expanded by 49 units. (Image courtesy of Bauen Group)

The plan to expand the Village Courts Apartments (VCA) complex in Mountain Village is continuing on schedule. Council members received an update Thursday, during a Town Council meeting, during which council approved the second reading of the density transfer and rezone for the 49 proposed units.

Michelle Haynes, town planning and development services director, outlined the recent project developments. On Aug. 2, the Town of Mountain Village published a request proposal for contractor bids. General contractor bids must be submitted by Sept. 13 to be considered, Haynes noted.

After proposals are submitted, the Town of Mountain Village will move forward quickly. Council will select the VCA contractor during the Sept. 19 meeting. Once the contractor is decided, the town will be better able to evaluate the expected costs of the new VCA units.

“Our projected costs are estimates to be determined with a final proposal,” Haynes said. “The construction bid set has been issued, and we will evaluate the contractors and their bids with a decision in mid-September.”

Over the past few weeks, Haynes and Mountain Village Finance Director Kevin Swain have been compiling information for potential financial options for the Village Courts project, according to the Town Manager Status Report. One decision is whether to conduct a refinance of all debt into “a 20 year fixed scenario, or keeping the financing separate between debts at VCA,” according to the report.

Although a debt financing plan is necessary as the VCA project is expected to cost more than the allotted funds that the Town of Mountain Village currently has available for the project, Town Council promises that they are financing the project as conservatively as possible.

The VCA project will be constructed in modular. Building in modular will also likely have less site impact for current residents, Haynes explained. Prefab allows for fewer materials onsite. There can be a break between laying the foundation and the setting of the modules in the winter, Haynes explained.

It also makes the project more financially feasible. When discussing options this winter, former council member Dan Jensen supported building in modules.

“I would encourage that,” Jensen said during the Jan. 19 meeting.

The VCA project is part of Mountain Village’s continued commitment to building affordable housing. Currently, the Town of Mountain Village has 539 workforce units for affordable housing. There are also 134 platted and unbuilt units, according to Haynes. The proposed 49 units will help with gap between the demand and availability of affordable housing in the area.

The plans for the Village Courts Apartment project are consistent with the findings of the 2018 Regional Housing Needs Assessment, Haynes explained. With the 49 new VCA units, Mountain Village will be able to meet their projected housing demand.

“The Town of Mountain Village needed to construct an addition 49 workforce housing units to meet our portion of the regional housing gap,” Haynes said.

The Village Courts expansion will include 42 two-bedroom units and seven one-bedroom units. When Town Council discussed the project at the beginning of 2019, there were several proposed combinations of one- and two-bedroom units, as well as studio units.

Council settled on a majority of two-bedroom units based on a town-conducted survey. In general, two-bedroom units are preferred as the extra space better accommodates families. The final decision for the allotted numbers of new one- and two-bedroom units in Village Court was based on this. The project will consist of two buildings, east and west. The nearby wetlands will remain untouched.

The Town of Mountain Village is committed to fulfilling the demand for housing in the town, Haynes said.

“There is a fundamental need for housing,” she added. “We remain committed to providing affordable housing options for our employees, families and community members.”

Mountain Village Mayor Laila Benitez agreed.

“The expansion of the Village Court Apartment is truly aligned with the goals of our comprehensive plan to create a wide spectrum of affordable housing. It will enable people to live in Mountain Village year-round,” she said.

If all proceeds as scheduled, the VCA project should break ground by mid-October.