Citing the affordability of the proposal, Flagstaff City Council moved to approve a rezoning for a multifamily development on the southern slope of McMillan Mesa, near the intersection of Ponderosa Parkway and Route 66.
The project, by Arizona developer Miramonte Homes, was approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission in a 3-1 vote earlier this month and it had unanimous support at Tuesday's council meeting.
At the moment, the undeveloped piece of land is zoned for rural residential, but Miramonte is hoping that changes to high density residential.
The project, which is designed as 13 three-story buildings, will contain a total of 169 units planned to be sold as condominiums and are meant for working families, according to those with Miramonte.
“Under current zoning, a developer could come in and build 10 or 11 million-dollar homes, easily sell those to Phoenicians as second homes who could use them during the ski season and rent them all out as vacation rentals for the rest of the year,” said Whitney Cunningham, an attorney speaking on behalf of Miramonte. “To be clear, that is not the vision Miramonte has for this property. Miramonte wants this to be a place for Flagstaff families who live here, work here and raise their families.”
To this end, Miramonte founder Chris Kemmerly said they have been working with both city staff and Housing Solutions of Northern Arizona to make sure the condos are as affordable as possible.
Kemmerly said 85% of the units will be under $300,000, with the average price of a condo costing about $264,000. Additionally, 10% of the condos will be designated as “attainable housing” and those condos will start at $155,000.
The development will also have measures to encourage owner occupancy and limit the number of units used as vacation rentals.
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“It will be marketed to first-time homeowners, in part because it’s going to be an FHA (Federal Housing Administration) qualified project,” Cunningham said.
To limit vacation rentals, Kemmerly said the management company would require those renting from an owner to rent for a minimum of 30 days. On top of that, while Kemmerly said they obviously can’t discriminate against investors looking to buy, the Federal Housing Administration qualification does require a certain percentage of units to be owner occupied.
Councilmember Jim McCarthy called the development “a very good project,” and asked them to bring the city similar ones in the future.
And Mayor Coral Evans agreed.
“When I look at this project, I see good land use and I see the highest and best use of vacant land that we have here in the city, of which we don’t have a whole lot left to build on,” Evans said.
The mayor also hoped the project might act as a way to reinvigorate some of the commercial areas nearby. Particularly, Evans pointed to the small strip mall that is adjacent to the proposed development, which she said has needed some help for nearly 30 years.
“I think with putting these homes there, with some of the other newer developments, I think we might actually see some life breathed back into that old strip mall, and this is a redevelopment tool for that,” Evans said.
Within the 13 buildings, there will be 13 studio units, 52 one-bedroom units, 78 two-bedroom units and 26 three-bedroom units.