WINTER PARK, Colo. – The popular ski town of Winter Park is trying to bring its workforce home.
Because of skyrocketing rents, 80 percent of the people who work in Winter Park commute from out of town.
“They live down valley in Granby, or even past Kremmling,” said Winter Park Housing Coordinator John Crone. “We’re talking one-and-a-half to two hours of commuting every day. That leads to a lot of turnover.”
Crone said constant turnover is hard on the community.
“You don’t know your neighbor walking down the street,” he said.
Winter Park Mayor Jimmy Lahrman told Denver7 that “living and working in a community creates that sense of community.”
With the slice of a ribbon, town officials took a big step toward building a stronger community this week.
They officially opened the Hideaway Place apartments, with 38 subsidized units.
“We want people who work here to live here,” Lahrman said. “We want them downtown.”
The mayor said having people live close to where they work will create a “vibrancy” in the downtown corridor.
“I love it here so much,” said Deanne Bugos, one of the tenants at Hideaway Place.
Bugos operates a clothing store and works at a toy shop.
“I was living in my mom’s condo,” she told Denver7, “and they were actually at a point where they had to sell it.”
Bugos said since she couldn't afford to buy her mom's condo, she thought she might have to move out of town and commute to work like everyone else.
The town spent $12 million to build the apartment complex.
Crone said market rent prices range from about $1,100 for a one-bedroom to $1,600 for a two-bedroom.
He said tenants at Hideaway Place will pay about $200 to $400 less.
"I have a great job. I have great friends," Bugos said. "I love this community and to be able to live in town and walk to work, to both my jobs, and to be able to enjoy all the community things there are to do here, is just so important."
Combination Food Store
Tenants at the Hideaway Place can walk just a few feet to go grocery shopping.
Shortly after todays ribbon cutting at the Hideaway, there was another ribbon cutting and grand opening at the Fireside Market & Eatery.
It's a new, independently-owned and family-operated grocery store focused on high-quality food and friendly service. Customers can find everyday essentials to specialty items from around the world.
The owner said the store stocks both health food and regular fare.
Crone told Denver7 that there are about 1,000 full time residents in Winter Park, adding that opening Hideaway Place adds 70 more.
He also said that in May, Winter Park will break ground on another workforce complex across the street. That building will be a dormitory-like apartment complex that will house about a hundred more residents.
"They'll add to the tax base and will contribute to the Winter Park community," he said.
Crone said anyone who is part of the Winter Park workforce and who provide crucial service to local residents can apply to rent one of the subsidized units.
"Teachers, EMS drivers, even ski lift operators are eligible," he said.