The Eagle has landed
After months of renovation, resort shows off new workforce housing
Back in December, Big Sky Resort’s Brian Wheeler pointed to renovations going on at the Golden Eagle Lodge and explained their significance like this: “That’s the foundation of community housing. If you don’t have adequate seasonal workforce housing, you will disrupt the community housing year-round.”
Wheeler, who is the resort’s director of real estate and development, joined Big Sky Resort President Taylor Middleton and a crowd of other staff, media and members of the community housing working group, on a June 13 tour of the newly remade Golden Eagle.
In his opening remarks to the gathering, Middleton said, “We thought it might be fun to get everybody together to show just another step of a project that Big Sky Resort has been working on for 42 years, which is creating more seasonal workforce housing. Seasonal workforce housing is a complicated issue. Our community is struggling with this affordable housing issue, right? Remember, every bed of housing that is created frees up another bed in the community for someone else to live.”
Middleton went on to describe how facilities like the Golden Eagle are geared toward workers passing through who only want to make a three to six month commitment and often can’t afford the upfront costs of turning on utilities and putting down a deposit.
“When a seasonal worker comes and works for Big Sky Resort in one of the 500 beds we provide, they show up, they check in, and they start paying rent the day they check in and they stop paying rent the day they check out. And by the way, their rent is subsidized by about half because it costs so much more to build and operate and provide this sort of housing,” continued Middleton. “But the point is, this affordable housing problem that our community has, there are many solutions. This isn’t the only solution. There are many solutions. But this is the most ‘here and now’ solution. And if more employers in the community had adopted this model a long time ago, I would propose, that we wouldn’t have the affordable housing crisis as severely in our community as we currently do now.”
Middleton again emphasized how the seasonal employees housed by the resort aren’t taking up beds that can then go to year-round residents.
Big Sky Resort Human Resources Director Brian Berry then led a tour inside the Golden Eagle, where he and Housing Manager Lindsay Colbert showed off a two-bed room with a flat screen TV, microwave and refrigerator.
“We’re currently occupied in both buildings, but we have the one to show today. All will come furnished with the exact same furnishings,” said Berry. “So you don’t need to come with your own furniture. You got it here.”
Berry then introduced Marc Perdue, the project manager who Berry said, “gutted this to the bare bones.”
Perdue appeared delighted to run through the vital stats for the $700,000 structural renovation: 16 rooms, some up to 400 sq. ft., double occupancy is $12, triple occupancy $10 per person per day, free Wi-Fi, free DIRECTV, the whole building is 5,700 sq. ft., it took 8,000 2x6 boards to remake, 800 sheets of drywall and every floor got new plywood on it.
“Another good stat is this building uses the equivalent of eight or nine 60 watt lightbulbs—in the entire building because everything is LEDs,” said Perdue, clearly proud of the refurbished workforce living space.