Posts Tagged ‘neighborhood’

20th November
2008
written by Downtown Dudette
February 20, 2008, 12:19 a.m.

TEYA VITU
Tucson Citizen  HERE

Uncertainty reigns supreme for a luxury condo proposal at Speedway Boulevard and Stone Avenue that stirred up controversy in the Dunbar/Spring neighborhood for more than two years.

In fall 2006, neighborhood residents were evenly divided on the proposal to have 10 affordable housing units within the 110-condo development. The prevailing half of the Dunbar/Spring Neighborhood Association stuck to its earlier demand for 33 percent affordable units.

One West went away for more than a year.

This week, One West and a new partner, International Sonoran Desert Alliance, returned to Dunbar/Spring with an updated proposal providing 32 affordable units, or 29 percent of the 110-condo proposal.

A few more uncertainties trump obstacles Dunbar/Spring put into play.

Will the City Council override the neighborhood association? Will the alliance get the state low-income housing tax credits necessary to secure $8 million in financing to “buy” the affordable units from One West? What will alliance project manager Jim Wilcox tell his board later this week?

City Council member Regina Romero, who represents Dunbar/Spring, sides with One West, the alliance and the 29 percent affordable commitment more than the split neighborhood’s leaning toward 33 percent.

“I think the right thing to do is give (the alliance) my support to go for the tax credits,” said Romero, whose passion is affordable housing.

Romero lauds Dunbar/Spring for tenaciously sticking to the affordable housing demands for two years, but she believes the split neighborhood’s continued resistance is counterproductive.

“I think they’re stuck on something else,” she said. “I’m really disappointed that the neighborhood is not celebrating their victory (in getting a 29 percent commitment).”

The primary opposition to One West was the 33/29 percent affordable housing dilemma, but individual agendas also surfaced at the neighborhood meeting attended by about 60 people. These ranged from complaints that One West would block the view of the mountains to demands insisting on 100 percent affordable housing for the debated southwest corner of Speedway and Stone.

Yeah, you buy a 1920′s 800 sq ft home in the middle of town for the mountain views and why not hold out for a developer that throws out all concern of breaking even let alone turning a profit. Good luck with that.

The siege between Dunbar/Spring and One West dates back to March 2006. In the preceding months, Dunbar/Spring Neighborhood Association officers won a number of concessions from One West, including lowering the building’s height along Ninth Avenue; enclosing parking within the complex; and building to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.

All that was for naught when the proposal was presented to a broader group of 40 neighbors. All that mattered then was the affordable housing question.

One West offered six affordable units measuring 750 square feet with the 110-condo proposal, where the typical condo size was 1,500 square feet.

By the time that March 2006 neighborhood meeting was over, the association set a standard that One West must have 33 percent affordable housing. The neighborhood association has a say because about one-third of the land under consideration is city-owned, and the City Council gives serious consideration to neighborhood association decisions.

Surprise ‘serious consideration’ code word for rubber stamp.

Neighborhood affordable housing advocates derived the 33 percent figure from the 2000 city Stone Avenue Corridor Plan, which provided “measures for a livable corridor.” The plan recommends mixed-income housing for Stone with “approximately one-third affordable.”

The One West saga became surreal in August and September 2006. One West went door-to-door in Dunbar/Spring to curry enough support to get neighborhood approval with a 64-40 vote for a complex now offering 10 affordable units. That meeting was the largest known gathering for a Dunbar/Spring Neighborhood Association meeting.

The next month, another sizable gathering of neighbors reversed the August vote, and since then the decision has stood that Dunbar/Spring wanted 33 percent affordable housing from One West.

2007 was a quiet year. One West regrouped and Dunbar/Spring tried to establish a process to avoid month-to-month vote reversals.

One West returned this month to Dunbar/Spring with a revised proposal and a new partner willing to provide 32 affordable units, 29 percent of the 110-condo total.

Combine a well organized neighborhood association, empowered by a City Council that lacks the spine to stand up for what’s right for the community and you get a big dirt lot and boarded up buildings. Drive by the S/W corner of Stone and Speedway and you’ll see what I’m talking about. 
 
I drive by this lot daily on my way to work downtown and can’t help but think about what could have been. The developers, a group of local business people, who I happen to know personally, shared their story with me and it’s important that I share it with you. The vision was a 110 condo project with retail and restaurants on the ground floor and the rest 70% residences in the $300k price range and the rest ‘low income housing’. 
What the developer went through was nothing short of ridiculous and they assured me they will never attempt a project like this again in the City of Tucson.
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