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Residential Development Limit Nearly Reached In Upper Blue Basin

Published: May 16, 2024

Breckenridge and Blue River are close to reaching the limit on new residential development as detailed in the Master Plan for the Upper Blue Basin.

Residential Build Out

Local officials determine the number of residential units the area can hold or an area’s residential build out.

Breckenridge is currently at 93% of its residential build out.

Blue River town is at 91% of their residential build out limit.

Each year, the estimated residential density for unincorporated parts of the Upper Blue Basin is reevaluated.

At the end of 2022, unincorporated areas of the Upper Blue Basin were at 76% of the residential build out limit.

County staff is still finalizing the analysis for 2023.

Joint Upper Blue Master Plan

In order to have more cooperative planning efforts to address land use and related issues, jurisdictions in the Upper Blue Basin created the Joint Upper Blue Master Plan in 1997. The document is a guide on how density can be used for residential developments.

In 1997, when the document was created, Breckenridge was already at 45% of the limit.

In 2011, when the Joint Upper Blue Master Plan was readopted, it was at approximately 75% of the limit.

The plan determined a range of 13,960 to 14,709 residential units as the maximum number the Upper Blue Basin could realistically sustain.

In Breckenridge, 8,100 of the limit of 8,714 residential units have already been built. This means Breckenridge is at 93% of its residential build out.

As a result, the town of Breckenridge will likely have to focus on redevelopment as opposed to new development in the future.

Blue River has only 28 lots left to build on but doesn’t anticipate reaching 100% of residential build out any time soon.

“We’re a valley, and so what’s left is steep hillside and it may have wetlands,” Blue River Town Manager Michelle Eddy said. “What’s left has to take some creative design for new construction.”

Transferable Development Rights

Density can be transferred between participating jurisdictions with transferable development rights. Density can be transferred within the Upper Blue River Basin but the overall net number of units would have to remain the same.

The 2024 transferable development rights price is $266,870 per unit. Proceeds collected are placed into Breckenridge and the county’s open space funds and used to acquire additional backcountry land parcels. The transferable development rights bank has generated $4.5 million thus far.

Breckenridge plans to use the transferable processes to allow for new housing projects.

The Plan provides an exemption from transferable development rights to borrow density for deed-restricted and workforce affordable housing.

Situations such as “skyscrapers going up in super high-density areas” are addressed in the plan and limits are put on developments.

The size of homes is also addressed in the Plan.

The Upper Blue Master Plan along with other development plans in Summit County are implemented to reach a balance of a strong local economy while not overbuilding the area.

One only has to evidence what happened in Vail and Aspen once build-out is complete. Values skyrocket as the overall demand remains strong while inventory becomes constrained.

If you are considering a Summit County real estate investment, reach out to our office today. Our experienced team of brokers look forward to providing you the expert guidance you deserve as our housing market matures.


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