Gray’s Crossing affordable housing will be factory-made
It will take state money, federal funding, free land and factory-built housing, but Truckee will soon have an apartment complex with 92 units of the most affordable housing you can find. Truckee’s second factory-built, affordable housing proposal in less than a week was approved by the Truckee planning commission on Tuesday. The nine, two-story apartment buildings will provide employee housing for two of East West Partner’s developments: Gray’s Crossing and Old Greenwood. They will be located on the eastern side of Highway 89 north near the Interstate 80 offramp.The planning commission made minor changes to the project, expanding the size of the children’s playground and improving the buildings’ orientation to the sun, before giving the project the green light.The Workforce Housing Association of Truckee Tahoe spoke in favor of the project at the meeting.”As you know we have an extensive need for this project,” said Rachelle Pellissier, executive director of the association.To make the project successful, the developer will receive more than $15 million in state and federal funds and loans.The town will loan the developer $3.5 million from a sate grant that Truckee landed late last year.
Developer Pacific West Communities will also receive $6 million in federal bonds and $6 million in tax credits.Because of affordability requirements that come with this financial help, the project will become even more affordable, officials said. “This is hitting the absolute most difficult income levels to get on the ground,” said Truckee Town Manager Tony Lashbrook.The project will be affordable to service employees who are often the “working poor,” said Caleb Roope of Pacific West Communities, the project’s developer.Apart from governmental funding and a piece of land that was donated to Roope by East West Partners, the affordability of factory-built housing has made the project possible, he said.”But for factory-built construction, we could not do this project,” Roope said.The apartments will each have either two or three bedrooms and will measure between 1,000 and 1,200 square feet. The complex will have a community room and fitness facility.
Is factory-built the future?Truckee’s newest affordable housing development will come to town on semi-trailers.Once they arrive from the Boise, Idaho, factory, a crane and work crews will “stitch” the building blocks together and bolt them onto foundations.It is a building process that drastically cuts construction costs, especially in snow country, where a building season is often less than half of the year, said Caleb Roope of Pacific West Communities.”We are already in a situation in Truckee and Mammoth where, but for factory-built housing, we could not do these projects,” he said.Roope is finishing up 48 factory-built units in Mammoth Lakes, which will be a near mirror-image of the Truckee project.
After initial trepidation, that project has been a hit within the resort community, said Andrea Clark, executive director of affordable housing group Mammoth Lakes Housing. The waiting list for housing at the project, which is still under construction, is over 150 people long, she said.”It’s been very, very well received,” said Clark. “There was a lot of apprehension about it, but when it went up everyone was very impressed.” Clark, whose housing group is a partner in the project, said that without factory-built technology the project would have required additional subsidy.Roope said the ability to put up the project in one season is a large advantage, but also not worrying about having to recruit a large labor force for the project is another advantage.The ability to construct a large project with a small construction crew is key in an area that has a small labor pool that may be hard to retain. The reduced labor costs translate into further affordability, he said.Pacific West Communities averages about 10 affordable projects a year, four of which usually use manufactured housing, said Roope. And that number will likely grow, he said.”I see it, especially in California, as being a definite trend,” Roope said. “It is something that more and more people are going to be doing.”
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