Wyoming Boomtown: With 12,000 Workers Expected, Kemmerer Looks To Modular Housing

With more than 12,000 workers expected in the coming years to build billions of dollars worth of energy development projects, Kemmerer is looking to modular housing as one solution to an expected crunch. The Lego-like homes will start arriving next spring.

Pat Maio

April 05, 20245 min read

A still shot from a Fading West video showing a modular housing unit being placed on a pad.
A still shot from a Fading West video showing a modular housing unit being placed on a pad. (Fading West via YouTube)

Let the parade of 18-wheeled flatbeds hauling modular homes to energy boomtown Kemmerer begin, well, next spring.

Fading West, a modular home builder based in Buena Vista, Colorado, with a laid-back, mountain town vibe in southcentral Colorado, is just waiting now for the Kemmerer City Council to approve a developer’s approach Monday on how to hook up the homes.

The tiny town of Kemmerer, with a population of about 2,500, was so short on housing when everyone started announcing plans to move to this southwestern Wyoming town over the past few years that it wasn’t even aware of the latest trends in housing affordability.

It’s aware now, as the council Monday is expected to embrace a simple — and affordable — approach to housing and expected explosion of workers needed to build a number of high-profile energy development projects.

Mark Germain, managing partner for Canyon Road Development, said the Monday night meeting with the council is considered a major turning point in getting a handle on Kemmerer’s future housing needs.

“These are not Jackson Hole properties,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “The state is looking for affordable workforce housing, and that’s exactly what they’re aiming to do.”

Nearly A Home A Day

The modular homes that Germain wants to bring to Kemmerer are from Fading West, which believes it can produce roughly 30 homes in a 35-day period at its factory in Buena Vista, then deliver the modular homes via a well-traveled mountainous route to Kemmerer more than 400 miles to the north with flatbed trucks through Colorado towns like Leadville and Craig.

The flatbeds from Fading West will connect with Interstate 80 near Wamsutter, then travel west about 200 miles to Kemmerer.

When they arrive, concrete pads will already have been poured, with utility connections in place.

Huge cranes will lift the modular home sections, including first and second floors, and lower them onto the pads, where they’ll be bolted down and nailed together. Trusses for roofs will arrive separately.

This Lego assemblage approach will begin in spring 2025, Germain explained.

The new homes will come with the latest in heat pump technology pushed by the Biden administration. These environmentally friendly alternatives to furnaces and air-conditioners can save big-time on energy costs, especially in cold and windy places like southwestern Wyoming.

The thinking is, these quick turnaround modular homes could be the answer to what’s expected to be a major housing crunch for the thousands of workers the area will need over the next decade or more.

  • A still shot from a Fading West video showing a modular housing unit being placed on a pad.
    A still shot from a Fading West video showing a modular housing unit being placed on a pad. (Fading West via YouTube)
  • Canyon Road in Kemmerer is where the Canyon Road Development is progressing to bring more housing to accommodate thousands of expected workers.
    Canyon Road in Kemmerer is where the Canyon Road Development is progressing to bring more housing to accommodate thousands of expected workers. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Polis Plugs Affordability

The name of Fading West is famous for affordability.

Back in 2019, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said in his first State of the State address that he wanted to encourage more affordable development and even pointed to Fading West as an example.

Polis said that their homes will save roughly 20% on construction costs and take about roughly 18 working days to build at Fading West’s plant in Buena Vista. The under three-week construction time for a single home compares with the year needed for traditionally built houses.

When talk began a while back on where to put people up overnight in Kemmerer on a temporary basis so that they could build the billions of dollars in energy projects coming to town, the thinking was RV camps or hotels and motels.

Then the talk got serious from housing experts who worried there was nowhere for anyone to live. Period.

Pick your energy or mineral flavor coming to town overnight: trona mining projects, coal-to-ammonia processing, hubs for the capture and storage of carbon dioxide from the air, and even Warren Buffet’s Berkshire-Hathaway-backed utility giant PacifiCorp, which wants to build a major transmission line over the landscape.

More Than 12,000

More than 12,000 temporary workers are expected to show up in Kemmerer, with a few thousand left behind with six-figure salaries in some cases, according to data provided by Germain.

Germain estimated that roughly $60 million to $70 million in local, state and federal grants and loans are keeping the purchase price of the homes down because of his company’s investment in the region’s infrastructure for water and waste systems, retention ponds, storm water facilities and electrical and gas connections.

“It’s being done in a fashion to not exacerbate what is going on in the city already,” he said.

Germain’s Canyon Road Wyoming business has two planned projects under consideration on 600 total acres that it owns in town.

From that tract of land, it has carved out two different sections of Kemmerer, located largely in Kemmerer near the intersections of U.S. Highway 30 that cuts through town, and another section located north of state Highway 189.

Everything is in Kemmerer, but because of some joint-powers decision-making that Kemmerer shares with Diamondville along its southern border — for storm drains and other utilities, for instance — the towns must both approve new infrastructure construction projects.

As explained by Germain, the Canyon project is located on 291 acres and includes 60 acres of commercial enterprises, with the remaining acreage set aside for 144 townhomes, 199 single-family homes and 1,097 multi-family apartments.

The Gateway project is located on 116 acres with 191 single-family homes and 88 townhomes.

The Gateway single-family homes could range in value from $450,000 to $550,000. The townhomes could range from mid- to high-$300,000s, Germain said.

As explained by Germain in presentations to interested parties, “This is not a, ‘Build it and they will come,’ it is becoming more like, ‘Build it please, they are coming!’”

Contact Pat Maio at pat@cowboystatedaily.com

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Pat Maio can be reached at pat@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Pat Maio


Pat Maio is a veteran journalist who covers energy for Cowboy State Daily.