Affordable Workforce Housing Project in Downtown Fort Collins Underway
Construction on Oak 140, 79 new apartments in Old Town Fort Collins began three months ago, but on Thursday the Downtown Development Authority and Housing Catalyst officially launched a project that addresses the need for affordable housing for people working in and around the city center.
The site at 140 Oak St. has been built on land owned by the DDA for more than a decade and will be the first low-income housing tax credit project in the downtown area. The apartments will be available to people earning between 30% and 80% of the region’s median income, with an average overall income of around 60% of the MAI.
The Fort Collins MAI this year is $ 67,200 for a single person and $ 95,900 for a family of four. A single person earning 30% of the IAM would earn $ 20,160 compared to $ 28,770 for a family of four; 80% of the MAI would be $ 53,760 for a single person and $ 76,720 for a four-person household.
A person working full time at the Colorado hourly minimum wage of $ 12.32 would earn about $ 25,625 per year. Rents are considered affordable when 30% or less of the tenant’s gross monthly income is spent on rent and utilities.
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Housing Catalyst estimates that households need to earn $ 23.50 an hour – $ 48,880 a year – to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Fort Collins. He estimates that 11,000 households are overburdened with costs and spend more than 30% of their income on housing.
The five-story building at 140 E. Oak has apartments on the third, fourth and fifth floors, a lobby and offices on the first, and parking on the second floor. The apartments range from studios to two bedrooms and should be ready for tenants in 14 months.
Kristin Fritz, Director of Real Estate at Housing Catalyst, praised the DDA’s “vision and ability to be patient, to listen to the community and to understand” the need for affordable housing in the downtown area. “It has been a long way to get here,” she said.
In 2019, as DDA reviewed the project, Executive Director Matt Robenalt and then Vice-Chair of the Board Jenny Schultz recommended partnering with Housing Catalyst to leverage their expertise in building housing. affordable housing and securing public and private sources of funding, including federal and state housing tax credits. .
Funding for the $ 31.5 million project will come from 4% state and federal tax credits for social housing, private activity bonds incurred by the City of Fort Collins and the County of Larimer in 2019 and 2020 as well as $ 6.8 million from the DDA, which also contributed the field, valued between $ 2.7 and $ 2.9 million.
Private equity bonds give the county and city the power to issue tax-exempt bonds for specific private sector projects, most often affordable housing.
DDA purchased the site in 2008 and bided its time to decide what to do with the 22,400 square foot site. DDA board chairman Chris Aronson told a small crowd gathered for the inauguration that “the project was well worth the wait.”
For three years, the property was used primarily as a staging area for downtown construction projects.
A YMCA opened on the site in 1907 and then housed Elks Lodge No. 804 for over 60 years before the Elks moved to Mulberry Street and sold the building to the DDA for $ 2.8 million. .
The DDA purchased the site with the intention of combining it with the nearby Remington car park for a new downtown hotel and conference center.
It was then – a time when a downtown hotel was in high demand and before the birth of the Elizabeth Hotel. And, it is now, when housing affordability is a critical issue facing the city and the average one-bedroom rents are around $ 1,560 with two-bedroom, two-bathroom units. for over $ 1,700, according to a recent survey of new units. conducted by NAI Affinity Real Estate in Fort Collins.
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Pat Ferrier is a senior journalist who covers business, health care and growth issues in northern Colorado. Contact her at [email protected] Please support his work and that of other Colorado journalists by purchasing a subscription today.