Fees from developers to help fund affordable housing


New development fees would help fund affordable housing.

Fees would range from 40 cents to $1.70 per square foot.

Fees would be on industrial, retail, hotel, apartments, and other new commercial construction.


Affordable housing such as the recently opened Ruby Hill Residences would be funded in part by new development fees.

New development fees would help fund a plan to raise $150 million over the next decade to fund 6,000 new affordable units, two city officials announced on Tuesday.

Mayor Michael B. Hancock and Councilwoman Robin Kniech on released the final of a plan to create the city’s first dedicated funding stream for affordable housing for low-to-moderate incomes residents.

The proposal — developed by Hancock, Kniech and Councilman Albus Brooks after nearly a year of analysis and public input — calls for allocating half of a property tax mill and a new development fee to generate an estimated $150 million in the first 10 years starting Jan. 1.

“There is no more important a priority in Denver right now than affordable housing,” Hancock said.

“In my State of the City speech (Monday), I spoke about the thousands of people who lack the simple advantages so many of us take for granted, like a place to call home. Home ownership gives families a foundation to build equity, build wealth and build a life. This is a fair, balanced and modest approach to address one of the most pressing problems facing Denver today.”

Hancock first announced his intent to create a permanent source of local funding for affordable housing last year during his second Inaugural address.

The final details of the proposal will be presented to the City Council’s Safety and Well-Being Committee at 1:30 p.m. today.

Those details include how the funds would be generated, spent and overseen.

Revenue: Voters authorized annual increases in city property tax revenue to pay for essential city services in 2012. Utilizing half a mill for affordable housing would cost the typical residential property owner $1 a month and the typical commercial owner $145 annually for every $1 million worth of commercial valuation.

The proposal also calls for establishing a new development fee.

One-time fees on new construction would range from 40 cents a square foot for industrial projects to $1.70 on retail, hotel and other commercial development.

There also would be a 60-cent fee on single-family construction and $1.50 per square foot on multi-family developments. The new development fee would be collected at the time that a new project receives its building permit.

Expenditures: The new fund would allow for the creation, preservation and rehabilitation of 6,000 affordable housing units over 10 years. Primary use of funds will be the production and preservation of permanent supportive housing, workforce rental housing, and for-sale housing. Expenditures would support households across a wide income spectrum, including people experiencing homelessness, low- and moderate-income renters and future homeowners.

Governance: An appointed 21-member advisory board would provide essential, strategic governance and input on uses of the housing fund. This body would meet monthly in publicly announced, open meetings.

“Our next step is to continue the dialogue on the methods the city is proposing for raising this money, an approach we believe is reasonable and fair,” Kniech said.

“By pairing a small portion of the property tax revenue that Denver voters approved almost four years ago with what would be one of the lowest one-time fees on new residential and commercial development in the nation, our broader community will be coming together with a sector of the economy generating some of the demand to create a bold solution for affordable housing in Denver.”

Over the past several months, city officials – together with housing advocates, developers, homeless service providers, community representatives and industry groups – have been exploring the best approach for establishing a new, local housing fund.

Specific revenue sources were developed following thorough analysis, including peer-city research, the findings of a nationally known consultant, a local feasibility study, and multiple layers of public and stakeholder input.

The idea of a local, sustainable fund for affordable housing, and the fiscal approaches available to establish it, was the subject of a public listening session convened by the city in April that attracted more than 350 people

A second, similar session will be held on July 21 at North High School, 2960 Speer Boulevard, beginning at 6 p.m.

Since 2011, Denver’s strong gains in population, employment and income growth have clearly increased demand for housing across a wide income spectrum, Hancock said.

The city’s revenue proposal for affordable housing spreads the burden across every Denver property owner, both residential and commercial, and the new ordinance would replace the city’s inclusionary housing ordinance—which applied requirements only to developers of multi-family, for-sale projects with more than 30 units.

City Council will consider the revenue proposal over the remainder of the summer.

A formal vote by the council s expected by early September.

If adopted, the new ordinance would go into effect Jan. 1,

 Have a story idea or real estate tip? Contact John Rebchook at JRCHOOK@gmail.com. DenverRealEstateWatch.com is sponsored by 8z Real Estate. To read more articles by John Rebchook, subscribe to the Colorado Real Estate Journal.


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John Rebchook

John Rebchook has more than 30 years of experience in writing and communications. As the Real Estate Editor for the Rocky Mountain News, he wrote about residential and commercial real estate for 26 years. He has won numerous awards for business stories and columns that he wrote, both as an individual and part of teams. In addition to real estate, he also covered economic development, banking and financing, the airlines, and cable TV for the Rocky. In addition, he was one of the original freelance writers for GlobeSt.com, covering commercial real estate for the Internet publication.

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