Basalt affordable-housing project gets boost from state tax credits

RealAmerica LLC aims to build this 56-unit affordable housing project and rent out the apartments by the end of 2017.
RealAmerica/courtesy image |

A proposed affordable-housing project in Basalt that’s been stalled for years finally received the financial jolt it needed Friday.

The Colorado Housing Finance Authority awarded low-income-housing tax credits to the 56-unit Roaring Fork Apartments project located just east, or upvalley, of Stubbies bar, the authority announced.

RealAmerica LLC, an Indiana-based developer of affordable-housing projects, applied for the tax credits last year but didn’t receive them. This year, it was one of 43 affordable-housing projects in Colorado to compete for the coveted tax credits. Only 13 projects were selected.

“I was really down last year when we didn’t get it,” said Ronda Weybright, owner and president of RealAmerica.

The difference this year was getting financial support from the town of Basalt and the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority, she said. The Basalt Town Council committed $175,000 to the project in May.

The project received $1.1 million in annual tax credits for the next 10 years. Weybright said RealAmerica will sell the credits to investors to raise money for construction, reducing the money the company must borrow to complete the project and, in turn, helping keep rents affordable.

Relief at right time

The project would provide some of the lowest rents in the Roaring Fork Valley at a time when affordable housing is difficult to find. Roaring Fork Apartments would be divided into 45 one-bedroom and 11 two-bedroom units. RealAmerica committed to the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority to rent six units to households with an annual income at 30 percent of area median income, 11 at 50 percent and 27 at 60 percent.

The remaining 12 units are unrestricted as far as the state is concerned, but Weybright said the remaining units also will rent under local affordable-housing regulations. That means the project would be 100 percent affordable housing for the lifetime of the project.

Weybright said the tax-credit program is immensely popular with investors because it’s a solid program and a good investment. Banks are often interested in investing. Her team intends to sell the credits and secure a loan this year and start construction before the end of 2016. The apartments could be available for rent by the end of 2017 if all goes as planned, she said.

Infrastructure in place

The project has the advantage of having the infrastructure and foundation already in place. RealAmerica bought the property from a Chicago developer that tried to build a hotel. The financing for the hotel fell through during the Great Recession, and the foundation sat unused. Construction fencing surrounds the site.

RealAmerica competed with the other applicants in oral presentations to the state housing and finance authority earlier this summer. Basalt Mayor Jacque Whitsitt spoke in support of the project before the authority.

“I said this has been a long time coming,” Whitsitt said Monday. She said the project will be a much-needed addition to Basalt.

“It’s a rental project, and we’re very desperate for rental,” Whitsitt said.

Roaring Fork Apartments is located within walking distance of Basalt’s schools, post office, library and bus stops, making it an attractive spot for any type of housing, especially low-income housing.

Weybright said RealAmerica is excited about becoming part of the Basalt community. It would manage the project after construction.

“I really want to thank the community for the support,” she said.


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