Behind the Headlines

When will West End Village get off ground?

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Q. Was RALF able to consummate a sale of Steve Cavanagh's (C.F.L.P.) interest in the West End Village Project?

A. No! RALF and Steve have not been able to come to mutually agreeable terms to purchase his interest in the project. In late summer, RALF believed that we had alternative commitments from investors and financing for the land acquisition, roads and utilities for the entire project and we wanted to purchase Steve's interest thinking we could expedite the project. After Sept. 11, our funding sources have gotten more nervous.

We continued to make offers to Steve to acquire his interest subject to financing but this was not acceptable to him.

RALF was not in a position to risk capital that we did not have and could not purchase his interest without financing in place for the project. We decided that our best alternative was to continue with the project as originally agreed to by RALF and Steve and we hoped that Steve would still close on the property and proceed with the project. That agreement included C.F.L.P. purchasing the property and RALF exercising an option on of the lots after final grading.

Q. What is the current status of the West End Village Project?

A. RALF was forwarded a letter by Bill Moser of ACM Ltd. (the seller) that set a closing deadline for Nov. 30, 2001.

Moser informed us that a closing did not occur and that Steve was no longer interested in purchasing the project or doing the land development.

Moser of ACM Ltd. investment group has been very patient and cooperative to date. The sellers of the land are being very reasonable and doing what they can do to help bring this project to fruition.

RALF currently has three verbal proposals from community-minded private for-profit entities interested in assisting in this project. We are in the process of getting these proposals in writing and the RALF executive committee and full board will evaluate them as soon as we receive them. I believe we will come to terms with one of them and that RALF will acquire this property shortly.

Q. Is Steve Cavanagh still involved with the West End Village Project?

A. Not at this point. He or his construction company may have an interest in building some portion of it but he does not appear to be interested in the land development aspect of the project.

Q. Is there still demand or need for affordable houses in Steamboat Springs?

A. Yes. Although there has been a significant softening in the higher-end real estate and second-home market there still appears to be a need and demand for for-sale housing at a price locals can afford. We are fortunate that with all of the bad economic new we have received lately that at least interest rates are still very low.

Q. What has been the effect of the local economy and real estate market on this project?

A. We believed we had the commitments from investors and financing to acquire Cavanagh's interest and complete the project prior to the Sept 11 events.

After Sept. 11, credit became tighter and interest from other potential investors softened.

Financial institutions in general are more cautious about lending even though interest rates are lower.

The new level of risk that has developed in the project does not appear to us to be because of the affordable homes aspect of this project but is due to the market-rate homes. Questions that have arisen include: Can the market-rate houses sell? How fast can they sell? What price will they sell for?

This project has taken a long time. Thus far, what have been the most challenging design and other issues you have faced?

Our approval of the development permit, including rezoning, was completed last December. The city planning department processed it in quick fashion. Steve's responsibility for obtaining approval for the final engineering has been significantly delayed for many reasons.

Design challenges have included meeting the conflicting goals of providing affordable housing at the same time as providing a "neo-traditional" subdivision layout and design. Neo-traditional design is more expensive in terms of additional infrastructure requirements and other design requirements.

These improvements include such things as alleys and architectural details like porches and streetscaping.

Q. In your opinion, will this project break ground next spring?

A. Yes. We anticipate that the infrastructure, including roads, utilities, etc. will take five to six months to complete before homes can begin construction.

Q. What are the 2002 goals for RALF?

A. We are committed to helping Habitat for Humanity obtain land for at least their next three houses. We have $120,000 committed to date in a $150,000 campaign that we have embarked on with the Yampa Valley Community Foundation and Habitat for Humanity. We hope to raise the balance by April.

We have completed most of the exterior work on Hillside Village Apartments and 40 interiors of the 55 apartments. We will complete the interior work on the remaining 15 units and the rest of the exterior work. We will continue to distribute the rental assistance funds from USDA that we have obtained for 42 of these 55 units. A number of our tenants have lost their jobs and are requiring more assistance until they find new ones.

We will get West End Village out of the ground.

We hope to have a Multi-jurisdictional housing authority in place that will be very helpful in the financing of affordable housing for profit and well as not for profit developments.

We are in the process of acquiring a 12-unit United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) elderly housing project in Hayden and should have that completed the first quarter of 2002.

We have been working with a coalition of four other affordable housing entities and have obtained a commitment for $1,000,000 of funding for projects and down payment loans in the Central Rocky Mountain Region from the Federal Government. We hope to have our portion ($200,000) of these funds by the second quarter of 2002.

We will continue working with the Colorado Housing Finance Authority with the Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) program that is a 20% of your mortgage interest federal tax credit for 1st time home buyers and intend to use our current allocation and apply for more funds.

We will continue to work with USDA in provide subsidized low interest rate loans for first time home buyers and will continue to work with Grand County in distributing and monitoring Section 8 rental assisting money to people in need of rental housing

We will continue to monitor the local real estate market and if we feel existing property prices fall to the point were they can be purchase and preserved in perpetuity for affordable housing we will do so.

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