Business leaders address affordable housing |

Business leaders address affordable housing

Sally J. Taylor

Business representatives on Tuesday debated the merits and deficiencies of an affordable housing complex planned for the Market Street area off Kingsbury Grade.

John Nisby, a consultant for developer Falcon Capital, explained the history and details of the proposed 64-unit Lake Vista Apartments to the Tahoe-Douglas Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

“In the last 10 years, the need for affordable housing is everywhere in the United States,” Nisby said.

The board stumbled on how the demolition of an existing 186-unit low income housing complex on Kahle Drive, the Lake Park Apartments, and replacing it with 64-units would help low income housing. Because only one and two-bedroom apartments are proposed, it also limits the residents who could qualify to those with four or fewer family members and then only if school-aged children are the same sex.

“It’s effectively reducing the affordable housing stock in Douglas County,” said board member Bill Chernock, who lives in the neighborhood proposed for the project. “It would certainly increase the quality, but reduce the number.”

The proposal includes the construction of 10 buildings on six acres. With the help of a variety of grants and financing, plus programs to maintain residents involvement, the apartments themselves would be “quality units” comparable to standard apartments on the market, Nisby said.

Chamber members also questioned the density of the proposed apartments and the effect that would have on traffic.

“Kingsbury Grade traffic is heavier with each passing year,” said Chamber President Pat Atherton. “A left-hand turn from Market would be challenging. Even one car per one unit, would still be a substantial increase.”

Nisby said that a Coordinated Transit Service stop would be included to encourage transit use. Plus, according to various studies, “residents of affordable housing developments tend not to have as many automobiles.”

The development proposal calls for the demolition in stages of the Lake Park Apartments, of which one of the five buildings is currently empty. The land would be returned to a stream environment zone, a significant plus for gaining Tahoe Regional Planning Agency approval.

The Lake Park Apartments themselves are in “severe physical condition” and not “economically feasible to rehabilitate,” Nisby said.

The demolished units would be applied partly to the Lake Vista complex plus a 138-unit, time-share complex in Round Hill. The possibility of another 70-unit, affordable-housing complex in Round Hill is being explored.

Nisby said that he is working with Lake Park residents on other housing alternatives including home ownership. By working in stages, the impact would be less severe.

“We cannot demolish more than what’s available for them,” Nisby said.

Chernock suggested looking for alternatives, such as a smaller Lake View complex and only partial demolition of the existing complex.

In the absence of the chamber’s Douglas County representatives, the board postponed taking an official position on the project. The board is expected to discuss the project again at its Aug. 17 meeting.

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