November 14, 2010 in City

Apartment projects target affordability

West CdA complex will have 39 lower-rent units
By The Spokesman-Review
 
By the numbers

180: Number of senior units needed in Coeur d’Alene, according to a 2006 housing assessment

39: Lower-income units in the Mill River Seniors project

$544,391: Annual tax credits contributed to the project by Idaho Housing Finance Association for 10 years

$326,000: Tax-increment financing provided by the Lake City Development Corp.

A Hayden company has begun construction on an affordable housing apartment complex for people 55 and older on the west side of Coeur d’Alene.

Whitewater Creek also recently was approved by the state’s housing finance association to receive federal tax credits to build an affordable housing project within the city’s Riverstone development, which is known more for upscale housing.

The company received building permits Nov. 4 to start work on the Mill River Seniors project, located on 5.8 acres on the north side of Seltice Way across from the Mill River development. The project will include 39 units for lower-income seniors, 10 market-rate units and one manager’s unit, said Renata McLeod, project coordinator for the city of Coeur d’Alene.

The city contributed $240,000 worth of federal Community Development Block Grant money to the project to assist with land acquisition, engineering and architectural work, McLeod said. Mill River Seniors fits with goals established during a 2006 housing needs assessment, she said. “At that point in time there was a need for 180 units of senior housing. This project really goes toward that goal of meeting the senior housing needs.”

McLeod said both projects would help the city address the need for affordable housing. “We’re incrementally hitting on those needs in our community and trying to support it where we can,” she said. “We just keep plugging away at the big picture.”

The Idaho Housing Finance Association also contributed $544,391 in federal tax credits, annually for 10 years, and $440,000 in federal HOME funding, a low-interest loan program, said Lisa Davis, a spokeswoman. The tax credit award is expected to generate $4.1 million in equity, she said.

Lastly, the project has been assisted by $326,000 in tax-increment financing from Lake City Development Corp., the city’s urban renewal agency. LCDC Director Tony Berns said tax-increment financing calls for the developer to pay the money up front then receive reimbursement over time from the increased taxes generated by the project.

An area on the western property line has been deeded to the city to assist with future expansion of the city sewer system north of Interstate 90, McLeod said.

The project Whitewater Creek is planning within the Riverstone development off Northwest Boulevard would use similar funding sources, although it is in preliminary stages. LCDC board minutes from Sept. 1 show the development would be called Riverstone West Family Apartments, and 70 percent of the units would target low-income residents.

Whitewater Creek officials told the LCDC board that such units are in high demand and typically have a vacancy rate in the 1 to 3 percent range, the minutes show.

Davis said the housing finance association approved Riverstone West for $602,077 in federal tax credits, annually for 10 years, which is expected to generate $4.64 million in equity. The project also has been awarded $575,000 in HOME funding, the low-interest loan program, Davis said.

Contingent on the federal tax credit award and public input, McLeod said, the city would contribute $10,000 in block grant funds to Riverstone West to assist with architectural and engineering fees.

Berns said the land targeted for that project is just north of Riverstone’s park, bordering the Prairie Trail. He said the project is envisioned as a 50- to 60-unit apartment complex that would offer 90 percent affordable housing and 10 percent market-rate units. He said Whitewater Creek has an option to buy four acres and has a letter of intent from LCDC to consider contributing $395,000 in tax-increment financing to help pay for public improvements.

Berns said now that Whitewater Creek has been approved for the tax credits, the developers will need to secure financing and explain to the LCDC board how they intend to use the urban renewal money. The letter of intent, he said, is “a nonbinding conditional pledge saying the board is supportive of this project and if they can get everything in place, we would consider being a partner.”

If the project moves forward, Berns said, it would bring affordable housing units to a residential area that has been mostly upscale.

“It’s an interesting mix if this works,” he said.

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