Published in the June 06, 2019, edition of the Lyons Recorder.
COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?
Summit receives tax credit approval for proposal in Lyons Valley Park
by Amy Reinholds
Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen’s report to the Lyons Board of Trustees on June 3 included an update on Summit Housing Group’s proposal for affordable rental homes in the Lyons Valley Park Subdivision.
She said that representatives from Summit confirmed that they received approval from the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) for tax credits and bonds on May 21, 2019.
Summit Housing Group, based in Missoula, Mt., is under contract with Keith Bell to purchase land in the Lyons Valley Park subdivision, intending to build 11 single family homes on already platted lots and 29 homes in multifamily buildings on Lyons Valley Park Tract A of Filing 8 (about 4 acres). All of those 40 rental homes must be affordable for people who earn 60 percent of the area median or less, required by the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) funding that Summit plans to use.
Simonsen written report stated that the bonds have commitments, but there is still “some fine tuning to occur”. She said that the CHFA approval is a preliminary award that allows the development project to sell the tax credits and bonds to the public. The federal LIHTC program gives investors a reduction in their federal tax liability based on the amount they invest in financing to develop affordable rental housing. The investors’ equity contribution subsidizes the development, allowing housing units to rent at below-market rates. For details about LIHTC, see chfainfo.com/arh/lihtc/overview.
Back in February, the State Housing Board approved Summit’s application for $4 million of federal disaster recovery funds to build those 40 affordable rental homes in Lyons. The application was approved for Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds, at a maximum of $100,000 per home, $4 million total for the 40 residences.
As far as the steps with the town, Simonsen also reported that Summit representatives plan to submit their application for developing the 29 homes in multifamily buildings, including a traffic study, geotechnical study, and design documents to the Town of Lyons within the next month. She said Summit anticipates closing on the purchase of the property from Bell by July 31.
According to background information that Simonsen previously told the trustees at a May 6 meeting, Summit has submitted preliminary drawings on the 11 single family homes to the town. The development process for the single family homes is like all others already platted in the Lyons Valley Park subdivision and elsewhere in Lyons, requiring a permitting and development process with the Town of Lyons. However, the development plan for the 29 apartments in multifamily buildings on Lyons Valley Park Tract A is a longer process. The development plan goes through the site development review process with the Lyons Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC) and later the Board of Trustees. The site development review process includes public input before both the PCDC and the trustees at official “public hearing” meetings.
Also, part of the Town Administrator’s report June 3 stated that Mayor Connie Sullivan and Simonsen met with Lyons Valley Park Homeowners Association May 22 to give an update and answer questions regarding Summit ‘s proposed development. “They are the closest neighbors to the proposal, and we gave them that same information (as reported to the trustees),” Simonsen said.
Summit specializes in developing and managing low-income tax credit and mixed-use developments in six states, including Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. The property management site for Summit buildings, www.leasehighland.com, shows what the applications are like for other rentals built by Summit, including homes in Longmont. The area median income changes every year, and varies depending on the number of people in a household, but you can download the 2018 Colorado County Income and Rent Tables at leaflyons.org/resources.html. Examples of rent estimates that Summit representatives have given at past meetings for two-bedroom apartments are $906 a month for a 40 percent AMI household, and $1,200 a month for a 60 percent AMI household, varying depending on family size.
Simonsen’s Administrator’s report also included a brief statement about a purchase and sale agreement with Paul Taburello for the town-owned land near U.S. 36 and Colorado 66. The closing is set for Sept. 30, 2019. Simonsen said town staff is meeting weekly with Tamburello and his staff to conduct due diligence on the north and south parcels that are under contract for Tamburello to purchase from the Town of Lyons. Progress continues to be made on inspections and utilities, she said.
In March, the Lyons Board of Trustees approved an agreement is to sell a total of about 7.58 acres of the eastern corridor property to Tamburello for $851,000. More than two years ago, the Town of Lyons purchased the former Longmont water treatment plant land east of U.S. 36 from the City of Longmont to use a portion of it as a permanent home for the town’s flood-destroyed public works building and to sell remaining available parcels to buyers who want to pursue uses described in the Lyons Primary Planning Area Master Plan. The town put out the request for proposals for prospective buyers with development plans in the fall of 2017. At that time, the Greens partnership (consisting of Tamburello, Donna Merten, and Thistle Community Housing) proposed purchasing all the land that Lyons is selling, on both the north and south sides of the highway (4.3 acres at 4651 Ute Hwy and 3.28 acres at 4652 Ute Hwy) for a mixed-use development that includes an innovative food agriculture business, a commercial kitchen, and affordable rental homes.
Tamburello told the trustees in March that he is still in discussion with Thistle Community Housing. Affordable rental homes could still be a possibility on some of the land he plans to purchase, but Tamburello is expected to bring forward a Planned Unit Development (PUD) application for commercial development first. At that time, he said that the Green Goo company was interested in a new headquarters at the location.
Since the original plans that the Greens partnership submitted in late 2017 and early 2018, Summit Housing Group’s plan for building affordable housing in Lyons Valley Park moved forward more quickly, and the State Housing Board approved Summit’s application for the full $4 million in federal funds set aside to build new affordable housing in Lyons after the 2013 flood. Thistle Community Housing wouldn’t have access to any of that funding for affordable housing, so it is less certain that Thistle affordable housing would be included in early development of that eastern corridor land.
Lyons lost about 76 to 94 destroyed homes in the 2013 flood. In March 2015, a proposal for using part of Bohn Park to build subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rentals and some Habitat for Humanity for-sale affordable homes (a total of 50-70 homes) was rejected in a town vote, 614 to 498. However, $4 million of federal Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery funds were still set aside for affordable housing in Lyons, and the State Housing Board voted in February to approve Summit Housing Group’s application for those funds for building 11 single family homes and 29 homes in multifamily buildings on land the company plans to buy in Lyons Valley Park. Until Summit’s proposal, a few concepts for subsidized affordable rentals were pursued, but nothing got very far in the process.
The only post-flood, deed-restricted, permanently affordable housing actually in the construction phase is at 112, 114, and 116 Park Street where Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley is building three duplexes (a total of six, for-sale homes) on six residential lots. The first duplex was completed in April 2019, and more volunteer help is needed to finish the other buldings. At www.stvrainhabitat.org/construction, after clicking FLOOD REBUILD-LYONS, volunteers can review all volunteer days with openings and sign up for one or more of the specific days they are available. Help is most needed on weekdays. For any questions, contact Rebecca Shannon, Community Engagement Manager, Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley, at 303-682-2485.
This column is a commentary (opinion column) in the Lyons Recorder. For a history, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers atlyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com.