‘Will it be affordable?’ Yes, these projects promise low-income housing

You want affordable housing? These projects promise to give it, if they can secure funding.

A committee that gives advice to the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency has ranked 10 projects that promise to bring hundreds of affordable housing units to the capital city if the private and nonprofit developers can secure funding needed to make the projects work.

If the RDA agrees to spend just over $8 million on a variety of projects in neighborhoods all over the city, we have an early look at where that housing might be built.

Developers, including a mix of nonprofits and developers who also build market rate housing, asked for $16.7 million to make their low-income housing projects pencil. The city has about half that to give out.

At a meeting on Dec. 21, a finance committee that advises the RDA ranked 10 projects based on their impact, how ready they are to break ground and other criteria. They passed that list onto the RDA, which will decide whether to follow the recommendation and issue the funds at an upcoming meeting. (The City Council acts as the RDA’s board and governing body.)

Here are the top 10 projects recommended for funding low-income housing in Salt Lake City, ranked in order.

Victory Heights (two phases)

A rare new low-income project on the east side, Victory Heights would see the redevelopment of a medical facility at 100 S. 1100 E. into 88 low-income housing units under the top-ranking proposal.

The developer is BCG Holdings, owned by Brandon Blaser, a private developer who is working on a mix of market rate and affordable housing.

Victory Heights would be built in two phases, and would include 40 studios and 10 three-bedroom units during the first phase. 

Apartments would be affordable for people with incomes ranging from 40 percent of the area median income to 60 percent of the area median income. The project is a rare example of a new affordable housing development east of 700 East.

This was the top-ranking development proposal from this round of funding, and the committee proposed giving it just over $2 million. 

Citizens West (two phases)

Giv Development, part of a group that includes a prominent developer of affordable housing, was the second-ranking project in this round of funding for low-income projects, according to the finance committee.

At 509 W. 300 N., the developer wants to build 80 new units, all affordable and many family-sized. The apartments would range from studios to four-bedroom units.

Giv, led by Chris Parker, would start construction in September 2023 with a goal of finishing by January 2025. Parker’s group has also been awarded low-income housing tax credits to help finance the project and get it ready for construction, which helped it score highly on the committee’s ranking.

Like Liberty Heights, this project also has two phases that were both recommended for funding at just over $3 million.

Ville 1659 

A motel conversion at 1659 W. North Temple would get $1 million of the $1.8 million it asked for under the committee’s recommendation.

The project would be the latest residential conversion project in the city, and would at 197 studio units, all at 30 percent AMI or lower to the North Temple corridor.

The project would also include a permanent supportive housing component, and received $2 million from the city’s homeless housing grant program.

Liberty Corner 

The 300 West corridor in Ballpark would continue its residential transformation under a proposal by Cowboy Partners that came sixth out of 10 in the finance committee’s ranking. (The first two on this list both had two phases.) 

Cowboy is donating equity and land costs to help make an all-affordable project with surprisingly big apartments pencil.

Liberty Corner would be built at 265 W. 1300 S. It would include 97 two-bedroom units, 80 three-bedrooms and 23 four-bedrooms, a unit mix that is unheard of in recent memory. The project would range from less than 40 percent AMI to no more than 60 percent AMI.

For a family of four, 60 percent AMI is $61,440 per year. 

The committee was torn between wanting to fund a project where the private developer was effectively donating equity and land costs and wanting to spread funding toward the biggest number of projects and those that are ready to break ground sooner.

Cowboy is applying for more tax credits to help make the nearly $100 million project work. It asked for $3 million from the city. The committee recommended giving it $1.1 million.

Atkinson Stacks

Forgive us for burying the news, but there is news here.

On Dec. 23, 2022, a story in the Salt Lake Tribune took readers on a tour through the building, which the current owner said would be open by April.

Two days earlier, at a meeting of a somewhat obscure finance committee that deals with financing for low-income housing projects in the city, members were already helping to make new plans for the building.

The Housing Assistance and Management Enterprise, a part of the Housing Authority of Salt Lake City, is looking to buy the Box 500 project that has lagged through construction and still remains unfinished.

Few details were shared during the meeting, and representatives from Eco Box Fabricators, the company behind the shipping container-based housing project at 543 S. 500 W. didn’t respond to a request for comment.

But HAME is looking for money to acquire the project and retrofit it — still unfinished — into a project that’s tied into Pamela’s Place immediately to the north. Pamela’s Place serves a population in need of permanent supportive housing, or a step out of homelessness for vulnerable people. 

If it can make the funding work, HAME would buy the building, apply a new exterior and open it in early 2024, according to comments at the meeting.

HAME asked for $2.5 million. The committee recommended giving it $500,000, likely because it’s still looking for other sources of funding for the project. 

Book Cliffs Lodge

A HAME project that has lingered for years, the Book Cliffs Lodge would be a mix of low-income and market rate housing at 1159 S. West Temple if it can get off the ground.

The committee recommended giving the project $540,000 out of a secondary fund. (A developer that was previously awarded over $2 million returned the money, and the committee made recommendations in case the RDA board agrees to reallocate that money this year.)

This was the eighth and final project to receive a recommendation for funding from the committee. 

Ville 9

One of two projects to not receive a recommendation for funding, Ville 9 is another project that has lingered for years.

This would be another adaptive reuse project in the Rose Park neighborhood that would see a motel converted to low-income apartment units, as well as a new low-income apartment building at 1025 N. 900 W.

The developers asked for $1.7 million to build the 65 units. The committee didn’t recommend any funding for it.

9Ten West

At 910 W. North Temple, 9Ten West would bring 175 units that are all studios or one-bedrooms and all affordable. 

Eight of the units would have been affordable for those making 30 percent AMI.

This was another project not yet shovel-ready, and the committee recommended the RDA fund none of the $2 million requested.

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Posted by Taylor Anderson

Taylor Anderson grew up near Chicago and made his way West to study journalism at the University of Montana. He's been a staff writer for the Chicago Tribune, Bend Bulletin and Salt Lake Tribune. A move from Portland, Oregon, to Salt Lake City opened his eyes to the importance of good urban design for building strong neighborhoods. He lives on the border of the Liberty Wells and Ballpark neighborhoods.