Affordable housing project gets $4.2 million boost

MACLT seeks waiver of impact fees; anonymous donor provides thousands

From the left are Audrey Graham, Terry Morse, Kaitlin Myers, Amy Rowland (Community Development Finance Alliance), David Olsen (kneeling), Scott Loomis (Mountainlands Community Housing Trust director), Barbara Hicks and Tom Shellenberger.
Courtesy photo

The Moab Area Community Land Trust in late February was awarded $4.2 million to develop infrastructure in the Arroyo Crossing affordable housing development in Spanish Valley, according to a statement from Kaitlin Myers of the Grand County Community and Economic Development department.

Myers at Tuesday’s Grand County Council meeting on behalf of the trust asked council members to consider waiving at least $50,000 in impact fees – and perhaps as much as $300,000 over 10 years – in order to help cut costs and keep the development affordable.

The project, said Scott Loomis, a Park City resident and executive director of the Mountainlands Community Housing Trust, said Arroyo Crossing has or will be rezoned as part of the county’s relatively new high-density housing overlay. It will include 300 units and commercial businesses.

Council Vice Chair and MACLT board member Terry Morse said the waiver of impact fees would “go a long way” in creating affordable housing for a housing-starved workforce. It has been one of the county’s primary objectives for years. “The impact is here already,” said Morse, adding that the deal provides a “wonderful opportunity” to make needed change.

Grand County Clerk/Auditor Chris Baird cautioned that impact fees are about infrastructure and that if members waive them for Arroyo Crossing they will have to make them up somewhere else. Baird said impact fees “are assessed against real costs,” and that “at some point it will catch up to us.”

The statement from MACLT said the federal New Markets Tax Credits, administered by the Community Development Finance Alliance, allows the trust to “leverage local contributions and private debt investment equity from financial institutions,” wrote Myers in an email. “MACLT hopes to raise at least $190,000 in local money by Aug. 30.”

They are well on their way. Myers in her statement said MACLT Treasurer Barbara Hicks has found that $102,000 has been raised so far, “thanks especially to a large, anonymous family donation three weeks ago.” Myers said the group hopes to receive donations from businesses, agencies and individuals “who are affected by the lack of workforce and entry-level housing in Grand County.”

The Community Development Finance Alliance, said Myers, is a financial intermediary that receives tax credit authority through a competitive process from the U.S. Treasury, and then awards credit authority to projects in Utah, which allows private capital to “flow from investors and lenders to qualified projects in low-income communities.” Community and Economic Development Director Zacharia Levine sits on the alliances’ advisory board, said Myers, who has been a member of the MACLT since 2017.

“This resource, along with the donation of 42 acres of developable land at 2022 Spanish Valley Drive should allow us to develop approximately 300 units of housing, a small neighborhood commercial area, and a community center to serve our local working residents,” said Audrey Graham, chair of MACLT, in the statement. On Tuesday night, Graham expressed deep gratitude for the generous actions.

The apartments, townhomes and single-family homes will only be available to very low-, low-, and moderate-income families working in or retired from Moab. MACLT hopes to serve Moab’s essential workforce, including teachers, emergency service providers, government employees, and service-sector workers. Half of the units will be reserved for low-income families making less than 80 percent of the area median income, said Myers.

There will be homes for sale or rent, and all will be deed restricted to prevent them from becoming too expensive for subsequent owners and renters. The land under the units will belong to the land trust, thus removing that expense for the resident. All use will be limited to guidelines set by MACLT to preserve affordability permanently. This model is being used in over 200 communities nationwide, and has proven extremely effective to preserving housing affordability in high cost and resort communities, said Myers.

The MACLT board will host a series of public events to introduce the development, garner ideas, and come up with street names. Visit the group’s website at moabclt.org for more information.