By Amy Reinholds
The Lyons Board of Trustees approved a memorandum of agreement Monday with Summit Housing Group, the next step toward affordable rental homes proposed for Lyons Valley Park, Filing 8, Tract A.
At the April 2 meeting, the trustees approved assigning the purchase and sale agreement with Keith Bell to Summit Housing Group, the developer for affordable rental homes that won a request for proposals process last month.
According to the resolution that the trustees approved 7-0, the Town of Lyons will execute the assignment of the purchase and sale agreement within ten business days. Then
Summit has five days to sign the agreement and 30 days to reimburse the Town of Lyons for all expenditures that the town has incurred toward acquiring the property and preparing the replacement housing project (estimated to not exceed $20,000).
The Town of Lyons will support Summit’s application for the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program for a higher subsidy of federal tax credits for investors. The so-called “9-percent tax credits” enable more homes affordable to renters who are in the range of 30-50 percent of the area median income, which the trustees have said they want to see. A letter of intent is required by May 1, and the application is due June 1. If Summit does not get this financing option, then lower “4-percent tax credits” are available with a longer, more flexible timeline. The 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.
Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen reported that the Summit architect met with town staff, and architectural drawings were updated based on input from the March 12 trustees meeting, making visuals more compatible and aligned with single family homes in the neighborhood. Lyons Valley Village, a co-housing community, is an example of existing multifamily buildings in Lyons Valley Park that are compatible with the surrounding neighborhood.
The next step is a development plan that goes through the process with the Lyons Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC), which includes public input. Simonsen also said that the Architect from Summit will be doing community outreach.
This proposed development will follow the same process as Lyons Valley Village did in the early 2000s. Simonsen and Kathie Guckenberger, consulting attorney for Town of Lyons, reported that the title commitment for both Lyons Valley Village and Filing 8, Tract A explicitly says “subject to PRD,” which was used in 1969-1979 to allow multi-family housing, aligning with today’s PUD zoning. The consulting attorneys for the town have reviewed the documentation and say it stands, which means that the Filing 8, Tract A can follow the same process as the developers for Lyons Valley Village did, and submit a Development Plan to the PCDC. Because of this “subject to PRD” in the title commitment, no rezoning process was required for Lyons Valley Village, and no rezoning process is required for this Filing 8, Tract A proposal.
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 6 states, including Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado, all which include portions affordable to people who make 60% of the area median incomes or less. The latest homes in Colorado are at 1205 Pace St. in Longmont.
Summit Housing Group's proposal for Lyons included two options, presented to the trustees last month, based on applying for and securing different levels of federal tax credits. Depending on whether the group can meet the June 1 deadline for a higher subsidy of federal tax credits for investors, there could either be 42 rentals available for households who earn 50-60 percent of the area median income, or – if the greater subsidy is attained – more of the 42 rentals could be set aside for households who earn 30-50 percent of the area median income. A presentation from Rusty Snow of Summit to the trustees at a March 12 meeting showed that 60 percent of the area median income means a range of $41,280-$63,660 annual income for a one- to five-person household, and the range of affordable monthly rents for that income, based on household size, starts at $1033-$1532. And 50 percent of the area median income means a range of $34,400-$53,050 annual income for a one- to five-person household, and the range of affordable monthly rents for that income, based on household size, starts at $921-$1276. If the higher subsidy of federal tax credits are awarded, then the balance of rentals could be lowered to be affordable for individuals and family who earn as low as 30 percent of the area median income, which means a range of $20,640-$31,830 annual income for a one- to five-person household, and the range of affordable monthly rents for that income, based on household size, starts at $552-$766.
Despite flexibility in the ranges of rents and targets for income levels between the two options, the proposal includes a total of 43 homes (one is for the on-site property manager) in 12 buildings that are two stories. The buildings include 24 two-bedroom/2 bath, 1200 s.f. homes, 19 three-bedroom/2 bath, 1500 s.f. homes, and total of 100 parking spots (a ratio of 2.32 per home). Apartment amenities include central heat/air, all appliances, washer and dryer in unit, composite finish counter tops, composite flooring, dark wood cabinets, and community amenities include an on-site manager, a community room, exercise center, community garden, and a children's play area. Snow said the community will be designed to transition from the surrounding single family homes and add to the already established neighborhood.
In contrast to the 12 buildings proposed by Summit, about 25 large, market-rate, single-family homes could be built on the same land, according to Clay Dusel, a Lyons Valley Park resident, and a PCDC commissioner, who spoke at a March 12 meeting.
In the past two years, the Lyons Board of Trustees has been trying to find land for affordable housing, to not lose $4 million in federal Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds set aside for Lyons. Other federal funds were lost in 2015 when 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 units) was rejected in a town vote: 498 Lyons voters supported it, and 614 Lyons voters opposed it. However, with $4 million still reserved for Lyons in the years that followed, the trustees have been pursuing several smaller options for housing.
On Jan. 29, the trustees approved a resolution authorizing a purchase and sale agreement with current owner Keith Bell, which gives the Town of Lyons an option to buy Tract A of Lyons Valley Park Filing 8, already intended for 43 units of multifamily housing. The town signed a joint letter of intent between Bell, president of Lyons Valley Park, Inc., who lives in Kansas, and David Wickum of Wickum Properties and Realty, based in Lyons. It states the Town of Lyons intends to purchase Tract A and work with public and private sectors to replace some of the housing lost in the 2013 flood, and that Wickum intends to purchase Lots 15-32 of Block 2 to develop single-family housing.
A request for proposals (RFP) for affordable housing developers interested in partnering with the town for that Lyons Valley Park Tract A parcel went out on Feb. 2, with a due date of March 5. Then, after a selection committee (including representatives from the Lyons Valley Park homeowners association and the Lyons PCDC) brought forward two finalists who presented to the Lyons Board of Trustees, Summit Housing Group was selected by the trustees.
Also at their April 2 meeting, the trustees also heard staff reports from Simonsen about the status of two other proposals for affordable housing.
For 19617 N. St. Vrain Drive, 2.13 acres in Boulder County next to the Baseline-Mocon industrial parcel and near the Eagle Canyon subdivision, an appraisal was received. Simonsen said the appraisal did not add any more value to property, previously valued at $440,000, and she will contact the owner to see if the owner is still interested in pursuing a sale to the Town of Lyons.
For the mixed use commercial and housing proposal on the eastern corridor, Simonsen said the Greens group and Thistle Community Housing are preparing a proposal for purchase and sale agreement with a way to move forward and use federal CDBG-DR funds that Summit does not use. The commercial piece of the proposal is requesting more time before moving forward. Simonsen said that the higher “9 percent tax credits” LIHTC program requires that the land for affordable apartment rentals be owned, zoned, and have a title commitment by the June 1 application deadline, which seems unlikely for this proposal unless steps are made quickly.
There are currently 26 permanently affordable rental homes in the Town of Lyons (already in town before the September 2013 flood): eight apartments at Bloomfield Place near the Stone Cup cafe, 12 apartments at Walter Self Senior Housing near the post office, and six apartments at Mountain Gate on 2nd Ave, all operated by the Boulder County Housing Authority. The only post-flood affordable housing currently being built is at 2nd Avenue and Park Street where Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley is building six homes (in three duplexes) on land the non-profit purchased at the end of 2016. To volunteer, sign up at www.stvrainhabitat.org/construction.
The Town of Lyons lost about 76-94 flood-destroyed homes. To get an accurate number of housing stock lost in the September 2013 flood, there are two ways to count. First, according to counts of Town of Lyons water taps/customer accounts, 94 customer accounts were lost after the flood (taking into account the 32 homes in Riverbend Mobile Home Park that were originally part of one water tap). However, some of those customer accounts were on Apple Valley Road (not in town limits), and some lots in town have more than one water tap/customer account. A second way to count is the number of flood-damaged homes in the Town of Lyons lost to both the federal buyout programs and to the changed use of the Riverbend Mobile Home Park property to an event venue (rezoned for commercial use), which totals 76 lost residential units. Federal buyouts totaled 44 units – including all residential units in the Foothills Mobile Home Park – and there were also 32 families who lost homes in the Riverbend Mobile Home Park, which was rezoned as a commercial wedding and lodging venue after the flood.
This column is a weekly commentary (opinion column) in the Lyons Recorder about affordable housing after the September 2013 flood disaster in Lyons. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @ hotmail.com. For a history of post-flood efforts for affordable housing in Lyons, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers posted on my blog at http://lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com.