Truckee Railyard housing project put on fast track by planning commission | SierraSun.com

Truckee Railyard housing project put on fast track by planning commission

TRUCKEE, Calif. — While the Truckee Planning Commission got a look last month at all the amendments of the Truckee Railyard Mixed-Use Development Master Plan, commissioners sharpened their focus on one specific area of the project: the Truckee Artist Lofts.

With the deadline nearing to submit a low-income housing application, commissioners supported town staff's recommendation to prioritize the lofts, a mixed-income/affordable housing project that's part of the Railyard's "Phase 1: Downtown Extension."

"I am in favor of fast-tracking this project," commissioner Seth Kielas said at the commission's March meeting. "In my opinion, I think this project is going to be a huge asset, and I think that it's very close to being ready."

"I do favor doing what we need to do to get this project done in the timeframe we need to," added commissioner Stephen Ramos. "I don't want to see this project held up."

Affordable housing need

The town of Truckee is eying a June 29, 2016, deadline to submit an application to the state of California for a 9 percent low-income housing tax credit for the Truckee Artists Lofts, a $28.5 million project being developed by Ali Youssefi of CFY Development, Inc.

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"That would enable us to complete the project financing and start construction," Youssefi said in a phone interview Tuesday.

Should the state approve the application, the lofts would provide affordable housing for individuals earning 30 to 60 percent of the area's median income, according to town staff.

Youseffi estimated the rentals, which are income-based, would range from $402-$950 a month for studios; $431-$1,050 for one-bedrooms; $518-1,300 for two-bedrooms; and $598-$1,600 for three-bedrooms.

"It would provide affordable housing, so that's obviously one of the main benefits to the community," he said.

The 121,000-square-foot Truckee Artist Lofts would rise four stories and include 77 apartments, as well as a gallery where artists and others may show their work.

Other space planned includes a large courtyard on the second floor, a community center on the second and third floors and a rooftop terrace on the top floor.

The ground floor would entail active retail spaces and "live-work" units — spaces that combine an artist's workspace and living quarters.

"We're excited that we'll be providing a community for some of the Truckee area's most creative people to come together, to live and create and collaborate under one roof," Youssefi said. "It's going to be a special place."

Truckee artists would also help put the finishing touches on the building itself, especially the interior spaces, he said.

"We're in the early stages of outreach with the Truckee artists," he added. "It's been inspiring meeting some of the Truckee's creative artists — there's a lot of talent in the area."

A parking Problem?

A total of 45 automobile parking spaces are proposed for the lofts, a number that raised concerns at the March 15 planning commission meeting.

Commissioners and residents questioned if 45 parking spaces are enough for a 77-apartment complex — 20 units of which would have three bedrooms.

"I think, in a perfect world, we're building these projects and we have great mass transit and people have their bikes," Alexis Ollar, executive director of Mountain Area Preservation, said during public comment. "But, most people do have a vehicle."

Commissioner Heather Beckman said she foresees a lengthy discussion specific to parking at the April 19 planning commission meeting, which will feature a public hearing on the project.

Speaking to that, Youssefi on Tuesday said he is working with the town and Railyard developer Holliday Development on a strategy that would bring additional parking spaces near the Truckee Artist Lofts.

This, Youssefi said, might involve tenants receiving permits to park across the street — the Donner Pass Road extension — on the south side of the building.

"Parking's an issue we continue to work on; the plan is still being developed," Youssefi said.

After the April 19 hearing, the planning commission is expected to vote on a recommendation to the town of Truckee to approve or deny the lofts' land use application.

Pending all approvals, Youssefi said he expects construction to begin in spring of 2017.

"We're just anxious to get the project through the process. I'm happy with how things have been moving along," Youssefi said. "This has been a fun project to work on. There's still a lot of work to do in the next few months, but things are moving in the right direction."

If you go

What: Truckee Planning Commission meeting

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 19

Where: Truckee Town Hall, 10183 Truckee Airport Road

More online: The entire Railyard development is planned just east of downtown. Visit truckeerailyard.com for detailed plans, project history, maps and more.

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