A proposed development on Ponderosa Parkway near the road’s intersection with Route 66 will be going before Flagstaff City Council after the Planning and Zoning Commission approved the project on Wednesday.
The project is proposed by Arizona developer Miramonte Homes, which has built a number of other residential developments in Flagstaff, including Presidio in the Pines.
Miramonte is asking that the city rezone the 11.97-acre section of land from its current rural residential zone to high density residential.
If approved by the council, that development would consist of 13 three-story buildings containing a total of 169 units to be sold as condos.
The development land is situated on the southern slope of McMillian Mesa, just north of the Starbucks at the corner of Ponderosa Parkway and Route 66 and across the street from a city fire station.
The development was passed by the commission 3-1 with only commissioner Eric Nolan in dissent, believing the development did not bring enough to the table regarding affordable housing.
Commissioner Marie Jones disagreed and said she believed the development represents what she likes to see in a larger project. Commissioner Alex Martinez and city staff also acknowledged that state law restricts how the city can negotiate with developers, specifically regarding affordable housing.
“In terms of high density development projects in Flagstaff, this is exactly the kind of project I want to see,” Jones said.
The development is not part of the city’s affordable housing program, but Jack Kemmerly with Miramonte Homes said they want the homes to be attainable for working people in Flagstaff.
Kemmerly said he couldn’t speak to an exact price point at the moment, but Miramonte has committed that the homes initially be sold at a price point 25% lower than the market value of the units, which should place them under $300,000.
Kemmerly said Miramonte is also working with Housing Solutions of Northern Arizona to sell 10% of units to families making at or below the price point attainable for a family making annual median income for the Flagstaff area.
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In 2018, the median income for a family of four in Flagstaff was $75,100, as determined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
That price point will be written into the deeds of those units; however, those units can be transformed into market rate housing if the condo is on the market for 120 days without being sold.
Devonna McLaughlin, the executive director of Housing Solutions of Northern Arizona, said although this may seem to contradict the goal of creating affordable housing, it is the only way they have been able to make more affordable condos work.
In the past, McLaughlin said they have created affordable condos without this out, but interested buyers have been unable to purchase them because banks are unwilling to give a loan to someone buying a permanently deed-restricted unit.
That’s because if permanent, the deed restriction reduces the collateral the bank has in case of foreclosure, McLaughlin said.
“The only thing worse than [not] having affordable housing is having housing that doesn’t work, having a development agreement that can’t be enforced, having units that can’t be sold, having homeowners that can’t sell in the future,” McLaughlin said.
To prevent owners of those units from simply putting a condo on the market and not selling it for 120 days before raising the price to market rate, Kemmerly said the city’s affordable housing program will receive a portion of the money generated by the sale of a unit that transitions a condo from affordable to market rate.
Kemmerly said if the zoning change is approved by Council, construction could begin on the road network to support the development as soon as this fall, with the first buildings going up midway through 2020.
The buildings will be constructed two at a time based on how well they sell, so construction could speed up or slow down depending on the market.
The development is providing 273 surface parking spaces as well as bike racks and seven motorcycle spaces.
The site is near a Mountain Line bus stop and a section of the urban trail. The homeowners association will also provide each unit with one Mountain Line ecopass for use by the residents to encourage the use of alternate forms of transit.