A face-lift for a Garden City eyesore

Low-income housing planned for high-profile Garden City corner

kmoeller@idahostatesman.comJuly 11, 2014 

The dilapidated site of a former trailer park along Veterans Memorial Parkway in Garden City is about to be transformed.

Treasure Valley development firm VCD, which is in the process of acquiring about six acres at the corner with Adams Street, plans to build a low-income apartment complex at the site.

The goal is private, affordable housing for working-class people.

The $11 million first phase of the Trailwinds project is a three-story, 68,000-square-foot wood-frame building with 64 apartments (one, two and three bedrooms). The large, L-shaped building would face 42nd Street, with parking and landscaping along the back on Veterans Parkway.

Planned amenities include balconies, outdoor patios for grilling, a computer center, a community room with a large TV, and possibly a small coffee bar.

"We definitely want to be able to provide anything you'd be able to find in a market-rate apartment," said Vince Spagnolo, one of three partners with VCD. The others are Chance Hobbs and Doug Crowther.

They've met with city officials numerous times and plan to submit their plan and design review application next week. They hope to break ground in late August and finish by next summer.

Spagnolo said he and Hobbs each have four to five years of experience in developing affordable housing with another organization, while Crowther's background is in construction management. The Garden City project is VCD's first.

VCD is partnering with Northwest Real Estate Capital Corp., a nonprofit focused on affordable housing. They were awarded $848,175 in low-income housing tax credits. The federal credits help developers pay to build affordable rental housing and allow them to offer rents to qualified residents below market rates.

The lower rents and income restrictions would remain in place for 40 years via an agreement recorded with the land, Spagnolo said.

The property they're buying includes parcels with addresses on the east and west sides of 42nd Street, a north-south street parallel to Veterans Parkway. It does not include the mobile home park on the west side of 42nd Street.

The developers said they looked for about a year for the right place for new low-income housing.

They saw many benefits to the Veterans Parkway/Adams Street site, including proximity to the Boys & Girls Club, Riverfront Park, the Boise River and the Greenbelt.

It's also in an area that the city is trying to revitalize. The property is within the Garden City urban renewal district, and that's how the city plans to repay VCD for installing new water and sewer lines, Garden City Councilwoman Pam Beaumont said.

The developer would install the lines, estimated to cost about $300,000. The urban renewal district then would raise money for repayment through tax-increment financing, giving the district the tax collected on the appreciated property values in the district.

"That's another reason this is such a win-win situation for the city," Beaumont said. "We're going to get those upfront, and they're needed badly. And we get much-needed affordable housing down there."

People who want to live in the apartments must prove that they earn 40 percent to 60 percent of area median income. "Your average working person making around $30,000 a year would qualify to live in these apartments," Spagnolo said.

AFFORDABLE RENTS

Plans call for the first phase's 64 apartments to rent for $390 to $675 (one-bedroom), $470 to $825 (two-bedroom) and $540 to $875 (three-bedroom), depending on a renter's income. Seven "market-rate" apartments are included for renters who don't qualify for subsidized rent.

The property is zoned mixed use, so the developers may include retail, office and other business. Those additions are most likely in Phases 2 and 3, timelines for which aren't set.

For those later phases, they envision a three-story apartment building with commercial on the first floor in the high-visibility corner at Veterans Parkway and Adams, and a three- or four-story building with first-floor commercial space fronting Adams on the west side of 42nd Street.

Monte McClure and the late Jim Wallace bought the mobile home park as an investment about 20 years ago. It gained value for many years, until about 2007, when the market went south. The property has been for sale on and off over the past half- dozen years.

As residents of the trailer homes at the site have moved out, they've been removed or torn down. Only a few are left. Where trees once stood on the corner lot, only stumps are left.

Russ Fulcher, the real estate agent representing the seller, said there's been a lot of interest in the property in the last year. Maverik had it under contract but ended up walking away, Fulcher said.

"It just takes awhile to find the right user," Fulcher said.

Katy Moeller: 377-6413

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