Council delays decision on housing concessions | PostIndependent.com
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Council delays decision on housing concessions

If Glenwood Springs contributes to an affordable housing project, it should own a portion of it, some City Council members say.Council members Larry Beckwith and Chris McGovern suggested the idea during consideration Thursday night of $1.5 million in concessions being sought by developers of the 120-unit project at Glenwood Meadows.Council put off a decision on the request so it could get more information from developers and the city could further analyze their proposal.Developers are asking the city to provide $938,945 in development fee waivers, permission to delay building a $350,000 park, and issuance of a $220,000 public infrastructure grant, loan or loan guarantee to help pay for the project. Some of the units would be restricted to people making less than 40 percent of the median income in Garfield County, with others being limited to those making below 60 percent, and the rest set aside for those making below 80 percent.Council member Larry Beckwith suggested council would be willing to participate if the city got a percentage of the project in return. Fellow councilor Chris McGovern voiced reservations over being asked to provide 5 percent of the development costs in a project that could grow many times in value by 40 years from now, when developers no longer would be required to restrict rent levels to those with lower incomes.”Would we get back our 5 percent investment in the same percentage? Now that makes sense to me … and then we can give it back to the community,” McGovern said.Otherwise, McGovern said she is concerned that the development is concentrated on the lower-income market, rather than serving people of more diverse income levels. Mayor Bruce Christensen agreed, but said he hopes to find a way to make the development work. He also praised Garfield County for committing a $1.5 million grant to the project.Developers say they need the city and county’s help because of skyrocketing construction costs.Representatives of the city Housing Commission, Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army spoke in favor of the project, saying it will help meet an urgent need for affordable housing in Glenwood Springs.Tom Ziemann, director of Catholic Charities in Glenwood, said there are now 74 local families with federal housing vouchers, “and they can’t find units in which to use those vouchers. … It shows how tight the market is right now.”Jill Ziemann, also of Catholic Charities, said there’s a two-year waiting list to get into Machebeuf, a lower-income apartment complex in West Glenwood.But Craig Helm, a Glenwood resident and developer, said he objected to the city handing out more than $1 million “that will essentially go to somebody making a profit on a project.”Council member David Merritt said the city needs to look more closely at the proposal, but also move forward with it.”We need this housing and we need it now,” he said.He said the city must recognize how it has benefited from the commercial development at Glenwood Meadows. The sales tax being generated there is coming from the labors of employees who need affordable housing, he said.Council member Dave Johnson said he’s not comfortable with the request to waive about $200,000 in school impact fees, given the number of students the apartment complex would be likely to generate. Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516dwebb@postindependent.com


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