Town Administrator gives updates about Lyons Valley Park Proposal
COMMENTARY: AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN LYONS
By Amy Reinholds
Affordable Housing Columnist
LYONS – Summit Housing Group, which is considering building 29 affordable rental homes in the Lyons Valley Park subdivision Tract A, has extended its purchase and sale agreement with Keith Bell of Lyons Valley Park Inc, Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen told the Lyons Board of Trustees on Aug. 6.
Simonsen reported to the trustees that the original purchase and sale agreement expired July 31, and Summit and Bell extended it for two weeks. She also said that the Markel Homes option to purchase 11 to 13 lower single-family home lots near Carter Drive from Bell has expired, so Summit is also evaluating those lots. Simonsen also said that the property owner at 19617 N St. Vrain is no longer considering selling to Summit, but that Summit is still pursuing other available properties to purchase.
Summit, based in Missoula, Mt., is a development company that specializes in low-income tax credit and mixed-use developments. It develops and manages rental properties in six states, including Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado, all which include portions affordable to people who make 60 percent of the area median income or less. The federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) gives investors a reduction in their federal tax liability for every dollar 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.
Simonsen said that Summit plans to hold another community meeting at Lyons Middle and High School (after Labor Day when the school year is underway). At a May community meeting, input from several homeowners in the Lyons Valley Park neighborhood encouraged Sam Long, Summit senior project manager, to consider building only 29 homes instead of the 43 homes that Summit was originally planning for Tract A of Lyons Valley Park. But at the same meeting, the president of the Lyons Valley Park Homeowners Association said his attorneys did not agree that any multifamily housing was allowed in the subdivision agreement and announced that the Homeowners Association was prepared to go to court.
This spring, Summit determined that the Lyons Valley Park subdivision agreement allows for multifamily density on 3.82 acres of Tract A of Filing 8, allowing about 27-29 homes (whether built by Summit or someone else), but not as many as the 43 Summit had originally proposed in a request for proposals application. Lyons Valley Village, a co-housing community, is an example of existing multifamily density in the Lyons Valley Park subdivision.
Summit president Rusty Snow also gave an update over the phone to the Lyons Human Services and Aging Commission July 24. He said if Summit could purchase only the Tract A Filing 8 of Lyons Valley Park, the company could still move forward with a proposal for building 29 rental homes there.
Federal disaster recovery funds in the form of Community Development Block Grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing are available at a maximum of $100,000 per rental home, which would be $2.9 million if Summit builds 29 homes on just the Lyons Valley Park Tract A, or up to $4 million if Summit can build at least 11 units somewhere else, for a total of at least 40 units. However, Snow explained to the commissioners that the Department of Housing requires that the total funds awarded must be spent by September 2019.
Snow said that if 20 rental homes were added somewhere else in Lyons, Summit would have different financing that could allow more homes available for renters with household incomes in the lower end of the income brackets. Because of the LIHTC program, Summit typically provides homes with rents available in four levels based on percentages of area median income (AMI): households with income at 30 percent or lower AMI, 40-31 percent AMI, 50-41 percent AMI, and 60-51 percent AMI. Snow gave examples of the broad range of incomes to the Human Services Commissioners, from a one-person household with a $23,000 annual income up to a five-person household with a $70,000 annual income. Each of the four income levels have different rents, also based on family size. Examples of rents for two-bedroom apartments are $661 a month for a 30 percent AMI household, and $1,200 a month for a 60 percent AMI household.
Snow also confirmed that a preference policy like Habitat for Humanity uses would be in place for Summit rentals proposed for Lyons. People who were living in the 80540 area during the 2013 flood and were displaced from their homes have first priority.
Renters who are interested in getting on a waiting list will have to wait until about 120 days before construction completion to fill out applications. However, Snow said they can go to www.leasehighland.com, the property management site for Summit buildings, to see what the applications are like for other rentals built by Summit, like the homes in Longmont. If all the steps are completed and Summit purchases the land and begins construction, information about Lyons will be added to the website.
On Jan. 29, the trustees approved a resolution authorizing a purchase and sale agreement with current owner Keith Bell of Lyons Valley Park Inc, for an option to buy Tract A of Lyons Valley Park Filing 8, a parcel of a little more than 4 acres. A selection committee (including representatives from the Lyons Valley Park Homeowners Association and the Lyons Planning and Community Development Commission) brought forward two finalists for the applications received for the request for proposals (RFP), and Summit was selected by the trustees in March. The purchase and sale agreement with Keith Bell was then assigned from the Town of Lyons to Summit, who is working directly with the seller.
Simonsen also included in her Aug. 6 report to trustees that Lyons Mayor Connie Sullivan reached out to Paul Tamburello of the Greens partnership for a time for the trustees to meet with that group again about a proposal to purchase town-owned land on Hwy 66, east of Hwy 36. A proposal from the Greens partnership included an innovative food agriculture business, a commercial kitchen, other business space, and affordable rental homes from Thistle Community Housing.
This column is a monthly commentary (opinion column) in the Redstone Review about affordable housing after the 2013 flood disaster in Lyons. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints, contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com. For a history of post-flood efforts for affordable housing in Lyons, see previous columns at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com.