Message from the Executive Director and Atrium at Austin Bluffs FAQ
I recently had the honor of having lunch with our newest employees and Greccio’s 2 former Executive Directors, Claudia Deats-Rodgers and Rich Strycker, during our New Employee Orientation. We are fortunate to have such rich history conveyed first-hand!
Adherence to our founding principles, commitment to residents, and a consistent approach to daily business operations are keys to success over time. Similarly, our being able to adapt to changing economic environments and housing markets has required flexibility in how we add new capacity to our affordable housing portfolio.
Gone are the days that we can find an inexpensive gem of a property, use volunteers to convert an old Victorian to a 9-unit rental property, or find simple solutions to an emerging need. Today, we operate in a world of competition with out-of-state investors, extremely high demand for properties, and a financial scale for new development that dwarfs projects from even a few years ago. New construction, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, environmental review and engineering, longitudinal studies and measurable outcomes, and navigating the development infill lots is our new norm. Even the acronyms and common language has changed!
For the 2019/2020 fiscal year, our project boards include a 60-unit property under construction – The Ridge (at Broadmoor Bluffs), a partnership with Commonwealth Development; progress on approval of our tax-credit funded 54-unit senior affordable property – the Atrium at Austin Bluffs; and after months of delays, a soon-to-be-under-construction Rocky Mountain Apartments – an 18-unit conversion from a former office building. With local partners, we are even planning how to expand an existing property with 100-150 new units.
New construction and conversion projects take time – and a lot of it! They often include competition for financing, years of planning and development, and significant up-front costs. New properties also include greater public scrutiny, questions, opportunities, support, and concerned neighbors. It is for these reasons that we have added a “Project Updates” section on our website, and will use updates from me (or possibly guest authors) in this forum to provide information or new perspectives for those interested in our development activity.
For now, please refer to the FAQ section to the right some of the common questions about our new property, the Atrium at Austin Bluffs, and other developments from Greccio and our partners.
Greccio Housing’s mission remains the same, but the pace and scale of our efforts has increased greatly. Or maybe it just seems that way. Spending time with our previous trailblazing leaders, Claudia and Rich, reminds us of the mountains they climbed to get us here.
Each era has its challenges and grand callings. Thank you for being part of our consistent and ever-growing base of supporters, donors, believers, cheerleaders, and advocates.
Lee Patke, Executive Director
The Atrium at Austin Bluffs: How is all that going to fit on such a small piece of land?
The 1.14 acre property is adequate for the building and required parking for the senior residents. We are working with experienced architects and land planners to ensure all codes and requirements are met. Plans are not yet final, and will be available for review during the City’s Land Use Review process. Update 11/22/19 – Variances are being requested for certain set-backs so that parking in addition to minimum requirement is available. Plans are available for review during the City’s Land Use Review process.
The Atrium at Austin Bluffs: Why won’t the City sell the land and use the money to fix more roads and potholes?
The parcel of land was donated to the City by a developer with the condition that it be used specifically for a “public benefit.” By donating the land to Greccio for this development, the City is helping address a shortage of affordable housing for low-income seniors; achieving the public benefit intended. City Council approved the agreement in March, 2018. Land transfer will occur after all approvals and financing are in place.
The Atrium at Austin Bluffs: What about the traffic impact on the neighborhood?
Traffic counts for the intended population (senior residential) are typically low impact, and much lower volume compared to other types of uses (retail and commercial).
A 3rd party Traffic and Transportation Consultant was hired to professionally analyze traffic impact of the project on the adjacent roadways; the complete analysis can be found here.
The Atrium at Austin Bluffs: There is no bus route on Austin Bluffs – how will residents get groceries or go to medical appointments?
For those without vehicles, there are transportation option from numerous providers in the community. Greccio is committed to providing weekly grocery access from current resources, and to advocating for additional bus service in this underserved area. Applicants to Greccio always know the resources of any property prior to signing a lease, and have choice to select the location and resources that are right for them.
The Atrium at Austin Bluffs: Is this another “taxpayer subsidized facility” for “taxpayer subsidized residents?
Low-Income Housing Tax Credits were implemented in the Reagan era (1986) to incentivize for-profit companies to invest in affordable housing. The investor receives future tax credits, and the community gets affordable rentals for its residents.
Around 15% of Greccio’s residents receive ‘Section 8’ housing assistance, and
half of those, or 37, are at 2 “project based” properties. This will not be a “project based” property, but may have some renters who receive housing assistance. With similar ratios, about 5-7 of the 54 apartments may have residents with housing assistance.
The Atrium at Austin Bluffs: Can someone rent the apartment, the sublease it or move others in that don’t meet qualifications?
No, properties with income restrictions such as this are often more strict than the general market about supervision, subleases, and unauthorized roommates. There will be on-site staff, Resident Resources, maintenance, regular supervision, and security cameras. Only those who qualify and are on the lease are allowed to stay.
The Atrium at Austin Bluffs: I’ve seen some of Greccio’s properties – will this property be the same type?
Most of Greccio’s early complexes were developed by acquiring older, distressed properties and renovating them. 3 are even over 100 years old (historic or Victorian)! Newly constructed affordable housing competes visually and functionally with all but the highest income market rate properties. Chances are you’ve seen newly constructed (2000-present) affordable housing, and had no idea it was “affordable.”
The Atrium at Austin Bluffs: Is the City co-signing a loan for this development?
No, the Private Activity Bonds (PAB) are a debt tool that Greccio will use to temporarily fund the development until repaid. The City is not party to the debt and has no financial obligation; it is only the issuer of the bonds/debt. These PABs are set aside specifically for affordable housing developments, and cannot be used for anything else.