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LCDC to decide on Whitewater Creek funding

by Tom Hasslinger
| June 24, 2010 9:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - It's the final financial commitment the project must secure to move forward.

Whitewater Creek Inc., requested $326,000 from Lake City Development Corp. on Wednesday that could complete a multi-entity partnership project and bring 50 affordable housing units for seniors on Seltice Way.

The agency's finance team will crunch the numbers before deciding in July.

"I think we've hit every one of the items LCDC is looking for," said Todd Prescott, owner, on the public improvements it would bring inside the agency's River District. "Everything's been secured."

The Hayden company is using several sources to make the project happen. It's partnering with the city of Coeur d'Alene, LCDC and Idaho Housing Finance Association to earn roughly $3.7 million in state tax breaks on the overall $6.5 million project.

If completed, the project would boast 9 buildings - one a community center - in a subdivision north of Seltice Way across from the US Bank Call Center. The units would be single level homes, complete with front gardens for people 55 years and older.

It would target people with fixed income levels ranging between $15,000 and $27,000. Their rents would be 30 percent of those incomes, from $363 to $675 a month.

"What we see on the market today because there aren't that many affordable units is that seniors are forced to pay 50 percent of their actual income on rent," said Prescott, who has developed 27 such complexes all over. "This is a real big deal, affordable housing."

Development would be expected to bring an economic boost to the area too, Prescott said.

Completion is expected by September 2011, and the project would hire 113 construction workers and net roughly $3.3 million in earnings and spending to the area, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis.

It would employ two full-time and two part-time jobs once opened, and generate roughly $29,000 in property tax revenue each year.

The agreement on LCDC's end would not pay the $326,000 up front. It would be an Owner Participation Agreement, paying the developer the money from the tax increment revenues the project generates over time. Early estimates would pay the developer in 11 years, which the board said it could probably afford.

The tax credit application was given extra points because it would use 5 percent of its funding from tax increment financing. The board agreed in a letter in February it would entertain such a partnership. It didn't hear the final pitch until Wednesday's special call meeting for the time sensitive request. The board normally meets only once a month.

The application was one of two approved by the state.

Whitewater Creek said LCDC's final piece of the puzzle would have to be secured by mid-July to complete the deal, to allow enough closing time with the banks.

Jim Elder, LCDC vice chair, said the short window wasn't a pressing issue for the board. It hopes to have another special call meeting July 10, enough time to close should the board agree.

"I think the project is important for the community, and for the seniors living on fixed incomes," he said.