BOULDER, CO. - When the public housing agency
here commemorated its 40th anniversary in September, its 46
employees had good reason to celebrate. Boulder Housing Partners
(BHP) has stepped boldly beyond the confines of Department of
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs to find new and
innovative ways to meet local housing needs.
One of its most notable achievements is the Holiday
Neighborhood, a 27-acre development on the site of an old drive-in
theater that is the winner of Affordable Housing Finance’s
Readers’ Choice Award for best master-planned/inclusionary
The project, now in the final stages of completion, represents
the culmination of BHP’s decision in 1998 to undertake
high-risk land development to subsidize its own operations and
create a wide array of low-cost living options at the Holiday
Leading the charge was Cindy Brown, BHP’s director for
development. She shares leadership of the organization with Betsy
Martens, who is the director of operations. Together, they serve as
co-executive directors of the agency.
The project relied on private-sector developers to whom BHP sold
building sites to create a wide range of housing products serving
all income groups, including a 49-unit scattered-site low-income
housing tax credit (LIHTC) deal.
BHP only sold sites to developers who agreed to make at least 40
percent of their units affordable and adhere to strict design
guidelines. That’s not as onerous as it sounds, considering
that the city of Boulder’s inclusionary zoning law requires
at least 20 percent affordability.
Plus, BHP offered a substantial discount on land and took all
the entitlement risk, said Brown. The resulting development
features 333 residential units, and 138 of those are or will be
deemed affordable. There will be a total of 195 units for sale at
market prices, which range between $300,000 and $760,000, Brown
The affordable units include 49 held by BHP and financed with
tax credits, three units held by Emergency Family Assistance for
persons earning no more than 30 percent of area median income
(AMI), and 86 units for sale to households earning up to 60 percent
or up to 80 percent of AMI.
“Without the help of Boulder Housing Partners, we
wouldn’t be able to live in this great place,” said
resident Michael Podhurcak, who shares his apartment with daughter
Cashlin, 6. “Due to my income, our options for living in
Boulder are limited and mostly out of reach. Our options would take
us away from the great schools and living conditions.”
The affordable for-sale units have deed restrictions to keep
them affordable in perpetuity, and BHP’s tax credit
apartments are split between 20 that are reserved for residents
earning up to 50 percent of AMI and 29 for those with incomes up to
40 percent of AMI.
The site includes small local businesses, a two-acre park, and
community gardens. Ten of the rental units have Sec. 8 assistance
and a McKinney Homeless Assistance Program grant.
Rather than build a tax credit project in the middle of this
master-planned community, BHP bought 49 of the units built by its
builder clients. “Our intention was that [the tax credit
portion] should be a seamless part of the project, not segregated
in any way,” explained Brown.
The buy-back cost just shy of $8 million and was financed with
tax credit proceeds of $3.76 million from MMA Financial and a loan
of $2.38 million from First Bank of Boulder.
As part of its inclusionary zoning program, the city of Boulder
determines what sales price will be affordable to households of
different sizes at about 60 percent of AMI. These prices are
generally not enough to cover the actual costs to build. For its
tax credit units, BHP negotiated purchase prices that reflected the
city’s inclusionary zoning prices, and purchased the units at
less than cost, Brown said.
Land development costs other than acquisition were about $8.2
million, including a “project administration” fee of
$750,000 as well as extra work that would benefit adjoining parcels
and for which BHP was reimbursed. The organization paid $3.8
million to acquire the land from the city.
The sales prices of the land varied between $11 and $22 per
square foot. Land sales generated about $10.9 million, according to
BHP. The figure also includes $350,000 that was used as BHP’s
own equity for the tax credit acquisitions. BHP financed the land
purchase with a loan guaranteed under the federal Sec. 108 loan
BHP broke ground on roads, sewers, and other infrastructure in
early 2003. The last phase of the development, which consists of
single-family homes, will be completed in 2007.
The organization owns and operates a portfolio of 1,000 units,
which includes a mix of project-based Sec. 8, tax-credit projects,
traditional public housing, and units acquired with grants from the
city of Boulder under what is called the “reduced-rent
program.” The organization also operates a Sec. 8 voucher
Brown was project manager for the land development component of
the Holiday Neighborhood. The project manager for the tax credits
portion of the project was Stuart Grogan.