Workforce housing back on the table for Ruckersville

By Susan Gibbs

While plans for the site in Ruckersville have not yet been developed, these units are examples of the workforce housing that may be coming here

A workforce apartment community may be coming to the property fronting the Deer Lake residential development on Route 29 South in Ruckersville, just north of the Food Lion shopping center.

Jen Surber first appeared before the Greene County Board of Supervisors on behalf of Gem Management Company last September, asking for permission to evaluate a portion of Ted Corp’s Greenecroft property on US 33 East that fronts the Four Seasons Active Adult Community.

At the time, Supervisors David Cox, Eddie Deane and Jim Frydl voted to approve the request – even though the land in question was zoned commercial – and Supervisors Davis Lamb and Buggs Peyton voted against it, wanting to preserve the commercial space. A month later, with no explanation, Ted Corp withdrew its request.

And so: “I found a property that meets zoning requirements for the use that we propose,” Surber told supervisors at their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, January 22.

That use is to construct at least 48 highly energy-efficient rental units on the property, partially financed with tax credits from the Virginia Housing Development Authority, would be rented to working families at up to 30 percent below market rental rates.

Reportedly, the maximum income limit for tenants is currently 60 percent of the area median income for the Charlottesville MSA. The median income for a household in the county is $77,500.  Current 2013 income limits would be as follows: one person, $32,580; two people, $37,200; three people, $41,890; four people, $46,500; and five people, $50,220.

Last fall Surber pointed out that though the rental rates are reduced, the product is not compromised.

“We build very attractive, highly desirable (units) with amenities that you might find in market-rate communities,” Surber told supervisors in September.

Also reportedly, tenants have to have good credit, criminal background checks, and will pay 100 percent of their rent.

Workforce housing is a federally-funded program, administered by the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA), for communities lacking below market rental rates for workforce employees.

Surber explained that the program provides tax credits to the developer to encourage the supply of such residential units. Kinvara Properties, LLC will be competing with other developers in other localities for the credits, and will bescored based on several criteria deemed critical by the state agency.

If awarded, the credits will then be sold to private investors through a syndication process.  The developer uses equity earned from the sale of the tax credits to offset development costs, reducing debt and thereby allowing for lower rental rates.

This is another example of workforce housing

The application for credits is to be submitted in March, final scores will be announced in June, and credits will be allocated in November. If credits are awarded, Surber said, construction would begin in the spring of 2014 and conclude that fall.

Documentation required for the application process includes: a designation of the site by the county as a “revitalization area” as defined by the program; a letter from the chairman of the Board that endorses the workforce housing development; and an agreement on the part of the county to hold taxes at the current rate until construction of the development is complete.

VHDA defines a revitalization area as one on which, among other things, “private enterprise and investment are not reasonably expected, without assistance, to produce the construction or rehabilitation of decent, safe and sanitary housing and supporting facilities that will meet the needs of low and moderate income persons and families.”

The letter signed by the Chairman of the Board must certify that the property is located in a revitalization area.

Surber explained that an expression of support is requested of supervisors because her company is investing between $40,000 and $50,000 in the process “based on reasonable hopes that we will have a chance of getting the credits.

“We certainly don’t wish to spend $40,000 – $50,000 in hopes of accessing these tax credits if we are not going to be able to get this zoning certification done,” she noted.

Also as she had in September, Surber asked that the county hold taxes on the property at the current rate until construction is completed.

All supervisors agreed to document the Board’s support for the project, but Frydl, who was elected to the panel’s chairmanship in January, told Surber that supervisors does not have the authority to collect taxes “in a specific way … that letter would have to come from the commissioner of revenue … you’d have to take that up with him. “

Reached after the meeting, Surber said she had received the documentation requested from Snow.

For more information on VHDA programs, visit http://www.vhda.com/Programs/Pages/Programs.aspx.

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