More than 280 units of affordable housing are at risk | ParkRecord.com

More than 280 units of affordable housing are at risk

Silver Creek Village Center developer and county disagree on phasing

Matt Lowe, president of the Silver Creek Village Center's development group, located in the open space near the junction of Interstate 80 and U.S. 40, says he wants to start construction on a significant portion of the project's required affordable housing units this fall.

As part of the village's development agreement, 330 affordable housing units are required to be built throughout the 240-acre residential and commercial town center, at least 35 percent or 101 units built during the first phase. However, the application is asking for 118 units. After that, every phase of construction must include at least 25 percent affordable housing integration.

Lowe said an agreement has been worked out with Mountainlands Community Housing Trust to locate the affordable units in five different parcels and build 281 of the units over the next couple of years. He added, "We feel that meets the language in our development agreement."

The county first received an application for Silver Creek in the late 1990s. It received final approvals from the Summit County Council in June, 2015 for 1,290 residential units, including the 330 affordable units, and 50,000 square feet of commercial space.

An application has been submitted to the Planning and Zoning department requesting an amendment to the development agreement to remove the requirement that workforce housing units be generally integrated throughout the development. The application is also requesting an amendment to change the height allowance on a parcel slated for affordable apartments from 32 feet to 36 feet.

The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the matter Tuesday, Aug. 8, at 4:30 p.m. in the Sheldon Richins Building.

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According to a planning department staff report, staff is suggesting a negative recommendation to the Basin Planning Commission because "the proposed amendment concentrates the units on a limited number of parcels which is less likely to result in a variety of unit styles, types, and sizes." Additionally, it states, "The proposed language fails to clarify other sections of the Agreement that relate to workforce housing," among other reasons.

On Thursday, Lowe said the affordable units are now at risk based on the recommendation of staff.

"We worked it out with Scott Loomis (executive director of Mountainlands) where we could provide affordable housing sooner rather than later. We we worked with them to figure out the best way we could deliver that the quickest and felt this was in harmony with what the planning commission wanted as well," Lowe said. "If the county were to take the position that they wanted complete integration where every fourth house is affordable, it could be 10 to 15 years before those units would be available."

Lowe said "we are very disappointed" in the staff's recommendation. He added, "We feel this is the best thing for the community."

"We feel like a developer front loading our project versus delaying it is the right thing to do," he said. "But to get pushback is disappointing. We do have confidence in the commission and the County Council and have a good relationship with them so we feel they are very sensitive to these needs and what we are presenting will be positively received."

Scott Loomis, executive director of Mountainlands Community Housing Trust, acknowledged the development agreement's language that states the units should be generally integrated throughout the project. However, he echoed Lowe's statements.

"With this many units, it could take 10 to 15 years," Loomis said. "This application is to basically say we can build 281 of the 330 units upfront as opposed to building them throughout. All of these units are at risk now and based on the staff report we are not going to be able to build what we are proposing. We really have a huge need for apartments. We have a year or two waitlist and we need apartments as soon as possible."

Loomis said there are no immediate plans to construct affordable housing in the Basin. He mentioned the recently completed units at the Richer Place Apartments and Canyon Corners, but said "there is nothing else in the county's pipeline."

"The need is greater now more than ever and we want to start 64 apartments and 30 townhouses this year that will be ready next year and then start another 140 more apartments and 24 townhouses in 2018," Loomis said. "Our feeling is this should be a fairly easy decision. I'm not sure what their motivation is. They might have some underlying reason, but it is contrary to council's objective to provide affordable housing."

Loomis said the organization has been moving at about "100 miles per hour to make this happen" with consideration of tax credit approvals and the required market studies. However, he added, "The county has been moving at their pace even though we are pushing them. We have most of the design work done on the initial 94 units."

"If they expect it to be done over the next 10 or 15 years that's all we will do, but I would strongly encourage anyone who feels that we need affordable or workforce housing sooner rather than later to attend this public hearing and give input or send an email or to Jennifer Strader (lead county planner on the project) or commissioners."

To view the county staff report, go to http://summitcounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/6605.