Truckee Town Council OKs 121,000-square-foot affordable housing project | SierraSun.com

Truckee Town Council OKs 121,000-square-foot affordable housing project

A rendering of the Truckee Artist Lofts project, which received unanimous approval from the Truckee Town Council at its May 10 meeting.

TRUCKEE, Calif. — For the first time in its decade-plus history of development, the Truckee Railyard project is on track to break ground.

Truckee Town Council on Tuesday, May 10, unanimously approved the project's first building, the Truckee Artist Lofts — a mixed-income/affordable housing project that's part of the Railyard's "Phase 1: Downtown Extension."

"This is a huge milestone for the Truckee Railyard, to have the first building approved," lofts developer Ali Youssefi said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Youssefi, of CFY Development, Inc., is partnering with Railyard developer Holliday Development on the lofts.

"This is obviously a project that we've been working on for a while, and is one the town and Holiday Development has been working on for even longer," Youssefi continued. "We're excited by the council's support and we're excited to be moving onto the next step in the process."

The next step, Youssefi said, is submitting an application to the state of California for a 9 percent low-income housing tax credit for the lofts.

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The Truckee Artist Lofts, in fact, were prioritized above all other Railyard developments so the project could meet the June 29 application deadline.

'NEED FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING'

To bolster the project's tax credit application, on May 10 the town of Truckee agreed to contribute a $1.3 million low-interest deferred loan to the lofts. According to town staff, in order for the project to receive maximum points on the tax credit application, a significant financial contribution from the town is necessary.

"It's a very competitive program," Youssefi said. "Obviously the need for affordable housing is great throughout the state of California, so we'll be competing with many other communities.

"That being said, the town's participation in the project is definitely going to help our competitiveness and puts us in a position to hopefully receive the allocation this year."

Youssefi said he should find out if the lofts qualify for the tax credit allocation in September. Should the state approve the application, it would bring almost $20 million in equity to the $28.5 million development.

"This will enable us to start construction on the project about a year from now, which is our goal," said Youssefi, adding that completion of the project is targeted for November 2018.

PART OF THE SOLUTION

The 121,000-square-foot Truckee Artist Lofts will rise four stories and include 77 apartments, including 66 affordable housing units restricted to households earning 30 percent to 60 percent of the area's median income, according to town staff.

All 77 units would be available only to full-time residents and not for short-term vacation and nightly rentals.

The apartments, which are income-based, would range from $402-$805 a month for studios; $431-$863 for one-bedrooms; $518-1,036 for two-bedrooms; and $598-$1,197 for three-bedrooms.

"It's not the solution," said Truckee Mayor Joan Jones, emphasizing the lofts' ability to somewhat help quell the housing crisis in Truckee, "but it's a part of a solution to a big problem."

Notably, though the building is geared toward the artist community, anyone can apply to live in the building, Youssefi said.

CONCERN OVER SIZE?

While many locals applauded the project at the May 10 meeting, one Truckee resident, Gordon Cross, urged council to deny the lofts' land use application.

"All I see is a four-story apartment building," said Cross, pointing his finger at an enlarged rendering of the lofts. "I get that we need low-income (housing), but this is not Truckee. It's a huge four-story box. We don't have four-story boxes in this town. Is the town ready for the density that it's going to get?"

During the council's deliberation, however, members spoke to the size and scale of the 121,000-square-foot development and how it fits with the Truckee Railyard Master Plan.

"It's a big building, no one can argue that," said council member Patrick Flora. "But, that's been the case from day one for this site. In order to achieve what the majority of the community wanted for this (Railyard) site, this is what it takes to make it viable."

Mayor Jones also said it's important for the community to know that "we're not going to replicate this size and scale throughout the (Railyard) plan."

Learn more

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