Buena Vista is one step closer to having a large modular home manufacturing plant built. During its last meeting, the Buena Vista Trustee members approved a major Planned Unit Development (PUD) adjustment for the Fading West project, after Charlie Chupp presented a brief overview of the state of the housing industry and rationale for needing the adjustment.
“Our biggest issue is a declining supply of homes vs. a growing demand,” said Chupp. He noted that the Colorado Governor’s Office estimates there are 100,000 fewer houses in Colorado than are needed. Couple that with Colorado holding the dubious honor of being the third most expensive state to build in after New York and California, and the 2008 recession reality causing many general contractors to leave the industry and not come back, Colorado is feeling the housing crisis more than other states.
Chupp presented a chart by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that showed that construction category is six percent less productive than in 1964. This compares with other Colorado industries that are now twice as productive as they were in 1964.
“So, what’s the solution to our housing problems,” asks Chupp? “How do we create affordable housing? With offsite, factory-built construction using LEAN, Toyota’s super-efficient production system.” He explained that Toyota is one of the most efficient builders in the world. Adding that LEAN is the systematic approach to eliminating waste in any process, to maximize value for its customers.
Fading West has purchased land near the Central Colorado Regional Airport in Buena Vista to build a large modular manufacturing plant. The plant would include a building with 110,000 square feet, with 100,000 square feet of that to be used as manufacturing space. It would employ a staff of 50 to start with, growing to 80-85 once the facility is at capacity. The output would be up to 1,200 modular home units per year.
Chupp hopes to be in production mode in early fall, 2020. Given that they will be the only modular home factory in the state, he noted that he already has letters of intent to fill up the first year of production. These modular homes would be targeted at first-time homeowners, take significantly less time to build, (less than a week from the start of production to being shipped out) and reduce costs by 15 -30 percent.
Fading West is asking for a PUD modification because “the maximum length a house or ‘box that can be transported without special permits is 76 feet,” said Chupp. “Building 76-foot boxes requires a 100-foot clearance so that the box can move within the facility to the next area of production. The lot has a width constraint and has a substantial grade change. The most efficient design would have three bays, using the 76-foot box and the 100-foot clearance.”
The PUD modification requested, would reduce the setback requirements from 25 feet to 23 feet on one side and from 10 feet to 6 feet on the other side. Also, a minor PUD adjustment would change the lot criteria from seven one-acre lots to one seven-acre lot.
Mark Doering, principal planner for the Town of Buena Vista, explained the difference between what adjustments were minor and could be approved without board approval, if they met specific criteria, and which adjustments were major and would require Board of Trustee approval.
Analysis from staff showed that the minor and major PUD adjustment requests meet the criteria. Staff approved the minor adjustment and recommended approval of the major PUD adjustment.
Trustees asked questions about potential adverse reactions on surrounding properties, impact on the road and the time of day the transport will be occurring.
Chupp said the transport would be done in off-hours to minimize the impact (later evening, earlier morning, and not on holidays).
His company has also completed a road impact report. Chubb says Fading West is committed to reinforce and expand the road and proposes to re-grade the land to the south of the building. Doering and his staff reviewed the work to be done and do not believe that it would have an adverse reaction to the owner of the adjacent land. Fading West has also discussed the adjustment with that owner and they have committed to maintaining the slope and easement.