AHA, Aurora Housing Authority, lands critical housing funding.
AHA received funding from CHFA for 3rd phase of Village at Westerly Creek.
Westerly Creek is the largest development of its kind in U.S. without HOPE VI funding.
With “critical” financing in hand, the Aurora Housing Authority is moving forward on completing a unique, $22 million-phase of affordable housing community in the city.
The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority recently awarded federal 4 percent Low Income Housing Tax Credits and State Housing Tax Credits to the Aurora Housing Authority.
The tax credits worth about $12.3 million to investors, are for the third phase of the Village at Westerly Creek.
The financing represents a “critical” component in the complicated and time-consuming redevelopment of the former public housing site, according to AHA officials.
“The demand for affordable housing in not only Aurora, but the entire Denver metropolitan area, cannot be overstated,” said Craig Maraschky, executive director of the AHA.
Indeed, the demand is so strong that the AHA hasn’t opened its voucher wait list since 2005, yet has enough eligible people waiting in the wings for housing for an estimated five more years.
When the third phase opens in about two years, it will “increase the affordable housing inventory in Aurora with a high quality development designed for long term sustainability,” Maraschky said.
Without the investment of the LIHTCs from CHFA, “this project would not be able to move forward,”he said.
“We thank CHFA for their support of this critical component for the affordable housing inventory in Aurora.”
The Village at Westerly Creek replaces a public housing development called Buckingham Gardens, which was built in the 1970s.
One official described Buckingham Gardens as “condo crap.”
Buckingham Gardens consisted of 2-story buildings with exterior stairs. As it served senior housing, outside stairs made no sense, noted Melissa Stirdivant, a veteran Housing Developer for the AHA.
“We are replacing a functionally obsolete project,” Stirdivant said.
“We are very proud of what we are accomplishing,” she added. She noted that no existing residents have been or will be displaced during the process.
The new development, which provides housing for seniors, families and disabled residents is at 10727 E. Kentucky Ave. The site is north of East Mississippi Avenue and east of South Havana Street.
Largest of its kind, by one metric
The Village at Westerly Creek is the largest redevelopment of a former public housing development in the U.S. that has not used HOPE VI funds, explained Stirdivant, who also has worked in affordable housing for Denver and the state.
The Village at Westerly Creek was ineligible for HOPE VI funding.
HOPE VI is a HUD program to revitalize the worst public housing projects into New Urbanism-style mixed-income development.
HOPE VI is typically used for public housing redevelopments, Stirdivant said.
However, HOPE VI requires:
- The site be in an area of concentrated poverty;
- The public housing needs to be severely distressed;
- And the redevelopment must create opportunities for residents to gain access to employment.
The Village of Westerly Creek is not in a low-income tract. And AHA maintained high physical inspection scores for Buckingham Gardens.
“And its public housing participants were elderly and/or disabled who were unlikely to seek employment opportunities,” Stirdivant said.
Village at Westerly Creek Mix
The third phase of the Village at Westerly Creek, will include 50, 2- to 4-bedroom townhome-style units for working families.
It also will have 24 one-bedroom senior homes.
It is being designed by Studio Completiva. Pinkard Construction is the general contractor
Open space will surround the development. The space will include community gardens, play areas for children, and space for neighbors to gather.
The first two phases were completed in 2012 and 2015, respectively. They have both won numerous awards since opening. The first two phases also brought more than $18 million of private equity into Aurora.
Construction of the third phase is scheduled to begin in the first half of 2017. Residents are expected to begin moving in mid-2018.
The first two phases have rooftop solar panels and the third will be wired for solar.
“We’d like to put solar photovoltaic panels on the roof, but we don’t have the money,” Stirdivant said.
But they aren’t giving up on find the money for solar.
“Like we say here, we’ll do bake sales, potluck dinners and look behind the cushions for spare change,” Stirdivant quipped.
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