Officials say renters in the area have struggled to find affordable housing over the years.
“If you look at the past five years, there’s been a great need for more apartment housing,” said William Petersen, city of Powell building official.
Recent independent market studies have confirmed the need.
“There’s more than enough demand for these housing units,” said Nate Richmond, president of Blue Line Development in Missoula, Mont. His company is partnering with Wyoming Housing Network of Casper to build one complex in Powell and one in Cody. Richmond said studies “showed a considerable need in both towns.”
Blue Line Development and Wyoming Housing Network are building a 12-unit complex called Ironwood Apartments on East Seventh Street in Powell. If everything goes as planned, construction on the $2.26 million complex may begin by September or October, Richmond said.
Meanwhile, Summit Housing Group of Missoula, Mont., intends to build a $2.37 million complex called Buck Creek Apartments. The 12-unit building will be on Monroe Street in the Petersen Subdivision. With funding just awarded last week, it’s too early to say when construction will begin, said Rusty Snow, vice president of Summit Housing Group. “We’re working diligently to set a schedule,” he said.
In addition to the lengthy financing process, environmental reviews, architectural and engineering plans, the projects must be reviewed by city officials.
The Powell City Council and Powell Economic Partnership (PEP) wrote letters of support to the WCDA for each of the Powell projects. The two Powell complexes each received a $5,000 match through Powell Inc., said Anna Sapp, PEP interim director.
Next week, Richmond will be in town to meet with any local contractors, subcontractors or suppliers interested in working on the Ironwood Apartments, Sapp said. The meeting begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Center for Training and Development on Northwest College’s West Campus. A similar meeting will take place for the Buck Creek project, but it hasn’t been scheduled yet.
“This is going to be good for Powell, absolutely,” Petersen said last week.
Petersen said he’s heard from Powell landlords recently that rentals have stayed open for longer periods of time, but the market fluctuates.
“This should put us where we need to be (for rentals),”he said.
Petersen said he wants to ensure the apartment complexes are well maintained in the future.
The new apartment complexes also will put pressure on local landlords to maintain and improve current rental housing, Petersen said.
In Cody, the 12-unit Willow Creek Apartments, costing $2.37 million, will be built on Cougar Avenue through Summit Housing. Cody’s other 12-unit project is the $2.32 million Cedar Mountain Apartments on 23rd Street through the Wyoming Housing Network and Blue Line.
All of the units in Powell and Cody are designed for families and individuals whose income falls below a certain percentage of the area’s median income.
To qualify for the WCDA financing and tax credits for the apartment complexes, developers had to demonstrate the projects meet community housing needs and serve the appropriate population determined by income levels, age and other demographic factors. They had to apply by January for funding this year.
Out of 16 applications statewide, only six were approved, totaling $5.1 million in funds. Park County’s four projects made up the majority of the six awards.
The local apartment complexes were awarded a total of $952,828 in Low Income Housing Tax Credits and $1.76 million in HOME Investment Partnership program funds by the WCDA.
The WCDA denied applications for housing developments in Douglas, Cheyenne, Green River, Worland, Basin, Greybull, Afton and Jackson. A third apartment complex proposed for Cody through G.A. Haan Development also was denied.
The HOME Investment Partnership program is a low-interest rate debt program often used in Wyoming to finance affordable, multi-family apartment projects. The WCDA requires HOME funds to be repaid at a 3 percent interest rate over a maximum 45-year period.
The Low Income Housing Tax Credits program is an indirect federal subsidy to encourage development of and help finance affordable rental housing for low-income residents. WCDA administers the program for Wyoming.
The WCDA modified its criteria to encourage more affordable housing developments in towns with 10,000 residents or less.
Funding for complexes
Ironwood Apartments on East Seventh Street in Powell
Tax credit: $235,743
HOME funds: $332,423
Total project cost: $2,265,323
Buck Creek Apartments on Monroe Street in Powell
Tax credit: $244,770
HOME funds: $501,802
Total project cost: $2,366,868
Willow Creek Apartments on Cougar Avenue in Cody
Tax credit: $230,000
HOME funds: $597,791
Total project cost: $2,368,614
Cedar Mountain Apartments on 23rd Street in Cody
Tax credit: $242,315
HOME funds: $333,745
Total project cost: $2,320,511
Source: Wyoming Community Development Authority