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Big Sky to host attainable housing summit for leaders across Mountain West 

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Built using modular construction, the RiverView apartments have sprouted rapidly in August after groundbreaking in May. PHOTO BY JACK REANEY


Regional leaders in affordable workforce housing will convene in Big Sky at The Wilson Hotel next week to share ideas and housing solutions. Hosted by Lone Mountain Land Company and CrossHarbor Capital Partners, the Moving Mountains Housing Access Summit will take place from Sept. 11-13. 

On their way into town, attendees will drive in past the Powder Light apartments and might notice the construction of the RiverView complex, two recent projects adding more than 800 workforce beds. They may learn that a few miles west, Big Sky Resort is nearing its goal to house half of its winter workforce—another step in the right direction for a mountain town facing urgent housing concerns.  

According to the event website, the conference will gather thought leaders, developers, public officials and housing advocates from across the Mountain West. The problem at hand: scarcity of affordable and available housing affects members of the resident workforce in mountain towns, which ultimately affects economic stability and viability for those communities. The solution-oriented summit seeks to “[address] the attainable housing crisis head on.”  

Speakers and panelists will represent efforts in Vail Valley, Park City, Lake Tahoe, Jackson Hole and various other destination communities facing housing challenges similar to Big Sky. Of course, Big Sky will be well-represented during the event. Local speakers include David O’Connor, executive director of the Big Sky Community Housing Trust, Daniel Bierschwale, executive director of the Big Sky Resort Area District, Big Sky Chamber of Commerce CEO Brad Niva and leaders from Lone Mountain Land Company and its parent company, CrossHarbor Capital.  

Matt Kidd, managing director of LMLC and partner with CrossHarbor, spoke on the phone with EBS about the event. He said it’s been an 18-month effort to make this summit possible.  

“Look, we still have tons of work to do in our housing efforts for Big Sky,” Kidd said. “We’ve also been working on how to take some of our housing successes here and help other markets find housing solutions for a wide range of housing needs as well.”  

The event was not designed for a public audience, but rather as a collaborative roundtable of leaders. Kidd said he looks forward to “brainstorming together about the challenges and opportunities to build and manage housing in the mountains.” 

Kidd confirmed that Big Sky Community Week—coming up in early October—will be a better venue for the public to engage with community housing efforts.  

As for next week’s conference, Kidd said the discussion topics are not focused to any specific type of housing, but a wide spectrum of needs created by market dynamics and popularity of short-term rentals.  

“It’s everything… from kind of entry-level seasonal workforce housing to homes for families and resort leadership. A wide spectrum of needs that all mountain towns are struggling with,” Kidd said.  

He added, “I’m just most interested in hearing and learning from leaders in other markets.” 

Leading by local example 

Kidd sees three reasons that Big Sky is a housing leader among similar communities in the Mountain West.  

First, Big Sky has a broad spectrum of stakeholders working collaboratively, from the housing trust to public-private partnerships, landowners, developers and community members. 

Second, Kidd said Big Sky is ahead of the game by addressing the future as much as the past. He gave credit to Big Sky Resort for leading the charge and investing in employee housing.  

Third, Big Sky is unique in its three-pronged funding mechanism. Between investment capital, public dollars including resort tax, and philanthropic support, housing efforts in Big Sky are backed by significant capital.  

All of those attributes are currently clicking, as partners—including the Big Sky Community Housing Trust, LMLC, Resort Tax and the Big Sky County Water and Sewer District—construct rental housing for local full-time workers.  

“We’re really excited about the construction progress that we’ve had with RiverView,” Kidd said. “It’s been good to see the buildings get set, hopefully we’ll have people living there as soon as this winter.”  

Beyond apartment rentals, he added that LMLC is working to plan projects to create better housing options for all folks in Big Sky.  

Kidd said the Moving Mountains Housing Access Summit is a new event, but it’s based on conferences held to address similar issues across the country.  

As discussions take place in Big Sky, challenges and solutions will be nested in the context of this community.  

“We hope it’s something that can become an annual gathering,” Kidd said.  

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