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Northstar workforce housing ready for occupants

Kara Fox

Sawmill Heights, a 96-unit employee housing complex at Northstar at Tahoe, will open just in time for the arrival of seasonal employees, which is a relief for the resort after waiting seven years for the project’s completion.

“I wondered if this day would ever come,” said Northstar at Tahoe Vice President and General Manager Tim Silva. “I can’t tell you what good employee housing does to the kind of ski resort we run. The employees are the key to the resort. We go out and recruit around the country and in other countries, and being able to offer housing is huge.”

Construction of the housing was a requirement for the large-scale development at Northstar.

Silva said the ski resort employs 1,200 employees at its peak, and that the resort will lease almost half of the Sawmill Heights units. The units will be offered to Northstar ski resort employees on a first-come, first-served basis, Silva said.

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Northstar’s original employee housing units at Truckee’s Hilltop will be used for the last time this winter. Traditionally Hilltop housed up to 50 Northstar employees, Silva said.

Employees who work for the ski resort, in the Village at Northstar, or hold other jobs within the Northstar at Tahoe resort are eligible to rent a room in the new complex without any income qualification requirements, said Project Manager Hayes Parzybok.

Other employees who work in the Martis Valley region, including Truckee and Kings Beach, are also eligible to live in Sawmill Heights, but will have to meet an income qualification, earning less than 120 percent of the area median income.

Although Northstar lies outside its jurisdiction, the Town of Truckee was the government sponsor of Sawmill Heights, which allowed the project to pursue low-interest bond financing. Truckee officials said they sponsored the bonding for the development because of the value to the greater community. Placer County also put forth $350,000 in redevelopment funds toward the $26 million project.

“We are excited to have a project geared toward the workforce,” said Truckee Town Manager Tony Lashbrook. “It is a first for the region.”

The apartments, which are located off the lower portion of Highlands View Road, are scheduled for occupation in December. Construction began in June and pre-leasing is beginning now. Polar Star Properties, a company with extensive experience in affordable housing, will manage the complex.

Rachelle Pellissier, executive director of the Workforce Housing Association of Truckee Tahoe, said it was good to see employee housing in the area.

“Northstar has gone beyond and been visionary,” Pellissier said. “Partnered with East West Partners, this is unique. It is beautiful, quality housing for people to live in.”


 

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