Affordable housing on the horizon
Housing Authority seeks approval for 34 deed-restricted units
By Tom Ross (Contact) - Steamboat TODAY Daily Newspaper
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Steamboat Springs — The Yampa Valley Housing Authority goes to the city tonight to seek approval for plans to add at least 34 deed-restricted affordable housing units west of downtown Steamboat Springs.
Elk River Village would be built on a 10.76-acre site along Routt County Road 129, just a few hundred feet from its intersection with U.S. Highway 40.
Housing Authority Assistant Director Curtis Church said he hopes the manufactured housing will be available for purchase in summer 2009.
“I would think we’d have product available next spring,” Church said. “We hope to begin working on (utilities) late this summer or early fall and order the structures next winter.”
Church estimated the cost of the project between $18 million and $20 million.
A similar project was proposed in 2005 by a private sector developer. The Housing Authority purchased the site in 2005 for about $2 million.
The Housing Authority is seeking to build 54 multifamily condominiums spread across four 12-unit buildings and one six-unit building. In addition, it would develop 13 single-family lots for 900-square-foot homes. Purchasers of single-family homes would have the option of adding decks, car ports and second levels.
The number of deed-restricted affordable units could depend upon how successful the Housing Authority is in putting together a package of creative financing for the project.
The completed Fox Creek Village affordable project on Hilltop Parkway utilized grants and down payment buy-downs from state and federal sources.
“It’s still a goal of ours to make all off them deed restricted, but it really depends on financing and construction costs,” Church said.
Including a mix of market rate housing units could help subsidize the affordable units.
Senior City Planner Bob Keenan said the land for Elk River Village is zoned for commercial uses, and creating housing there requires the developers to show substantial public benefit. He will suggest to the Planning Commission tonight that the combination of 6 acres of open space and the minimum 34 deed-restricted units satisfy that requirement.
Keenan also might make the case that the housing project creates a desirable mix of uses in an area that is predominantly light industrial and commercial.
“It actually meets a couple of the goals of the Steamboat Springs Area Plan,” he said. “It’s within walking distance of bus stops and a large number of employers in the area.”
Keenan will ask the Planning Commission to discuss whether the affordable housing proposal goes far enough to ensure housing for people at the low end of the economic spectrum (80 percent of the median income). He’s also concerned whether the architecture of the multifamily buildings is too repetitive.
The city also might press the Housing Authority to build a fence to act as a buffer between the homes and a new sidewalk along C.R. 129. It would help mitigate a necessary building setback variance, Keenan said.
“The applicant has proposed the multifamily buildings to be as close to the property line as 6.5 feet,” Keenan wrote in a memo to the Planning Commission. We “have suggested a split-rail fence between the sidewalk and these buildings as a buffer. The applicant has not included a fence, citing cost as an issue.”
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